US President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies, White House officials have said after Trump threatened to shut down the platform he accused of stifling conservative voices.
The officials, who spoke to reporters travelling with Trump to Washington from Florida aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, gave no further details.
Before leaving for Florida earlier in the day to observe a space launch that was postponed because of bad weather, Trump again accused Twitter Inc and other social media of bias without offering evidence.
….Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
It was not immediately clear whether Trump has the authority to shut down the companies. Twitter declined comment on news of Trump’s plans. Facebook and Google did not immediately comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the First Amendment of the US Constitution limits any action Trump could take to regulate social media platforms.
Separately, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in Washington on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a suit brought by a conservative group and right-wing YouTube personality against Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple alleging they conspired to suppress conservative political views.
Trump’s latest dispute with social media emerged after Twitter on Tuesday for the first time attached a warning to some of his tweets prompting readers to fact check the president’s claims.
In the tweets tagged by Twitter, Trump made unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting. Trump falsely claims that mail-in ballots lead to vote fraud and ineligible voters getting ballots.
“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump said in a pair of additional posts on Twitter on Wednesday.
The president, a heavy user of Twitter with more than 80 million followers, added: “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
Trump’s threat to shut down platforms like Twitter and Facebook is his strongest yet within a broader conservative backlash against Big Tech. Shares of both companies fell on Wednesday.
Asked during Twitter’s annual meeting on Wednesday why the company decided to affix the label to Trump’s mail-in ballot tweets, General Counsel Sean Edgett said decisions about handling misinformation are made as a group.
“We have a group and committee of folks who take a look at these things and make decisions on what’s getting a lot of visibility and traction…”, he said.
© RAW 2020