⚖️ The legal tangle likely to arise in Trump's feud with social media 

Donald Trump calls it one of the “gravest dangers” free speech has faced in the history of the United States. Twitter calls it a fact-check. 

And the conflict between him and Twitter is leading to a legal battle over the regulation of social media companies

  • This all started with a Trump tweet: After he tweeted false claims about voter fraud, Twitter inserted a warning below the tweet stating the information he had provided was misleading.

  • In response, Trump enacted an executive order: Its intent was to make social media companies vulnerable to legal action in response to what is posted on their platforms. They have long enjoyed immunity from such actions through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But legal experts suggest the executive order amounts to little more than a publicity stunt and does not nullify any existing laws or protections. 

Tech vs. America’s politicians

Social media companies, particularly Facebook and Twitter, have been fighting battles about the content posted on their platforms on two fronts. 

  1. Many politicians have been concerned about the content these platforms allow, most prominently the posts by Russian bots ahead of the 2016 election. Mark Zuckerberg has contended Facebook does not have responsibility for determining the veracity of posts and comments on its platform.  

  2. Other politicians, including Trump and top Republicans, believe social media platforms have been disproportionately censoring conservative voices. By changing Section 230, they would hope to challenge social media platforms for censorship they see as invalid. 

The Verdict

Although Trump’s executive order will likely prove toothless, AG William Barr has said the administration intends to push legislation targeting tech companies’ protections in Section 230 through Congress.