- Trump’s executive order seeking to crack down on social media companies over allegations of political bias specifically calls out his personal feud with Twitter.
- The order comes days after Twitter added a fact-checking label to the president’s tweets falsely linking vote-by-mail ballots to fraud.
- Trump railed against the move, accusing the company of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.”
- Twitter has defended its decision, saying Trump’s tweets violated its civic integrity policy and could “confuse voters about what they need to do to receive a ballot and participate in the election process.”
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President Donald Trump explicitly called out his personal feud with Twitter in an executive order signed Thursday that takes aim at social media companies over allegations of bias against conservatives.
“Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet,” the order read, though it did not specify which reporting it was referring to.
In the order, Trump also accused Twitter of exhibiting bias by alleging that it had not added labels to tweets from Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff regarding the Russia investigation and singled out a Twitter employee who had tweeted criticism of Trump in the past.
The president’s directive, which comes two days after Twitter fact-checked two of his tweets pushing false claims about voting by mail, seeks to empower federal regulators to narrow the scope of a law that that gives social media companies legal immunity from content published on their platforms and broad authority to moderate it.
Trump ranted against Twitter’s decision in a series of tweets earlier this week, accusing the company of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “completely stifling FREE SPEECH.”
Following reports that Trump would issue an executive order Thursday, Twitter defended its decision to add the labels by saying Trump had violated its policy against “manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes,” which “includes posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process.”
“We added a label to two @realDonaldTrump Tweets about California’s vote-by-mail plans as part of our efforts to enforce our civic integrity policy. We believe those Tweets could confuse voters about what they need to do to receive a ballot and participate in the election process,” the company said in a tweet Wednesday evening.
Shortly after signing the order on Thursday, Trump said he would shut down Twitter if his lawyers could find a way to do it.
“I think we shut it down, as far as I’m concerned, but I’d have to go through a legal process,” the president told reporters. “If it were able to be legally shut down, I would do it.”
Despite the president’s threats, however, First Amendment experts say he does not have the power to regulate or shut down social-media companies because he disagrees with them. Tech policy experts echoed that assessment, telling Business Insider that parts of the executive order are not legal at all, while other sections would require agencies to throw out years of judicial precedent.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.