President Donald Trump of the United States on Thursday signed an executive order seeking to limit the broad legal protection that federal law currently provides to social media and other online platforms. This is coming days after Twitter called two of his tweets “potentially misleading”.
Speaking from the Oval Office ahead of signing the order, Trump accused Twitter of acting as an editor “with a viewpoint” and described the platform’s fact-check of his tweets as “political activism”.
He said he would delete his Twitter account “in a heartbeat” if he felt the news media were fair to him.
He said, “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers.
“A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States.
“They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences.”
Trump said that if his lawyers could find a way to legally shut down Twitter, “I would do it.”
The order escalates an already heated fight over how big social-media platforms handle politically charged content.
The companies long resisted stronger moderation efforts and have struggled to address growing pressure to combat the proliferation of misinformation and other problematic content in a way that avoids fueling criticism that they are inconsistent, biased or stifling free expression.
The executive order marks the Trump administration’s most aggressive effort against social-media companies.
The President has threatened for years to counteract what he and many conservatives see as a systemic bias against their political positions on social media.
His campaign on Thursday sent supporters an email seeking to raise money off the President’s feud with Twitter.