President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order on Thursday about social media, according to tweets by several White House reporters on Wednesday. The expected move comes after Twitter fact-checked Trump’s mail-in ballot tweets for containing “potentially misleading misinformation.”
No other official details about what the executive order will contain have been released, but the Washington Post reported late Wednesday it will be a wide-ranging order that will direct federal regulators to rethink Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from 1996, which provides online platforms with vital protection from liability for content posted by their users.
A draft of the order was reportedly obtained by multiple media organizations, including Reuters and Protocol, late Wednesday. Kate Klonick, an assistant legal professor at St. John’s University School of Law, also published what she said was a draft version of the executive order on Twitter.
The apparent draft version of the order, which could change, would instruct the Commerce Department to ask the Federal Communications Commission to call a rulemaking proceeding to reconsider the law’s purview. It would also give the Federal Trade Commission responsibility for investigating complaints of political bias to determine whether tech companies’ content-moderation policies conflict with their pledges for neutrality.
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that this will be “a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!”
The expected action by Trump highlights how tensions between some of the world’s largest social media companies and conservatives are heating up amid their efforts to crack down on misinformation. Twitter and other social media companies have repeatedly denied they suppress conservative speech.
The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Trump isfor supposed bias against conservative views. The executive order has reportedly been reworked several times in recent years and could still change, sources told the newspaper.
The White House referred CNET to “pool reports” when asked for more details about the executive order.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said in a tweet that Twitter “has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct” and that “big action” would follow. He didn’t specify what this action would be but White House reporters for The New York Times, PBS and CNN tweeted on Wednesday that the president will sign an executive order “pertaining to social media” tomorrow.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted to his more than 80 million followers that “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-in-Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” a claim that has been debunked by fact-checkers and news organizations. He continued his remarks in another tweet, stating that it will be a “Rigged Election.” In a rare move, Twitter then added a label to Trump’s two tweets because they contained “potentially misleading information about voting processes.”
A label appears under both tweets that reads: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Clicking on the warning notice directs people to a page explaining that fact-checkers say there isn’t any evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to that criticism directed at Twitter executives by saying that he’s “ultimately accountable” for the company’s decisions.
“Please leave our employees out of this,” Dorsey tweeted late Wednesday. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.”
Trump has previously accused social media sites of being, and the where people can report whether they thought their social media accounts were banned due to political bias.
Social media giants have faced losing their protection under a re-examination of Section 230 before. In June 2019, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, which would remove tech companies’ automatic immunity.
A month later, representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter testified in a congressional hearing that their respective companies made mistakes on what content gets published, but that they aren’t censoring with a political bias.
Twitter, Google and Facebook declined to comment. Snap and TikTok didn’t respond.