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Tags Current Affairs

Trump’s executive order on social media platforms

Date: 30 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at removing certain protections for social media platforms that aim to safeguard them from any liabilities arising out of the content that is posted on their websites.

 

Background

The order gives federal regulators the agency to take action against online platforms that are seen as censoring free speech.

 

Details

  • The executive order says that online platforms are engaging in selective censorship and that Twitter’s labelling of Trump’s Tweets shows political bias.

  • “At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans’ speech here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China,” the order mentions.

  • As part of its new policy undertaken amid the coronavirus pandemic, Twitter has introduced labels and warning messages that aim to provide additional context and information on Tweets containing disputed, misleading or unverified claims related to the pandemic.

  • However, the labels can also be used in situations where the risk of harm associated with a Tweet is less severe and people may be confused or misled by the content.

  • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provides immunity to online platforms and protects them from being liable for the content billions of people post on their platform every day.

  • Further, under this section, providers of “interactive computer services” are free from being treated as the publisher or speaker of any information posted by the users, rendering these platforms “unfettered by Federal or State regulation”.

  • The Act also protects online platforms from civil liability, which means that they may not be liable for restricting access to certain content that platforms may consider being, “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable” and when such content is removed in “good faith”.

  • Twitter has said that the order is a “reactionary” and “politicised” approach to a landmark law. It says that Section 230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression. 

 

Executive order

An executive order is a written directive issued by the President and is one of the most common presidential documents. Such orders are not legislations and don’t require the approval of the Congress, which also means that the Congress cannot overturn them.

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