Trump’s executive order related to social media sites will have little legal effect says a constitutional law professor
Trump has often claimed that social media sites are biased in favor of the Democrats, an argument he made to attack Google Search back in 2018. Trump has also leveled the same charges against Twitter and Facebook. The president could be hurting his own reelection chances since the Trump campaign advertises heavily on Facebook and the president often uses Twitter to broadcast his policies such as his desire to regulate social media for example.
Jack Balkin, a Yale University constitutional law professor, says, “The president is trying to frighten, coerce, scare, cajole social media companies to leave him alone and not do what Twitter has just done to him. The professor called the executive order “mostly smoke and mirrors” and said that it would have little effect legally. The executive order will ask the FCC to regulate Section 230, which is part of a 1996 law called the Communications Decency Act. Trump’s executive order will require the FCC to determine whether a social media company is moderating content using deceptive policies and if the company is not following its own terms of service. The FCC will reportedly be asked in the executive order to look at whether the editing of content by social media firms should lead these companies to lose their Section 230 protection.
Another part of the draft executive order calls for the White House Office of Digital Strategy to release a tool that will allow consumers to make complaints about social media sites that practice censorship (you can see the irony here, right?). The complaints will be sent to the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC will then investigate a complaint to see if the actions taken by a social media company violate the law. These complaints will be publicly available. In addition, the Attorney General will create a working group made up of state attorneys general that will look at state laws to make sure that they disallow unfair and deceptive acts to be committed by online platforms.
As you might imagine, Twitter’s fact-checking of the president has ignited a political firestorm. On FOX News yesterday, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called out Twitter stating that the company had decided “to engage the president of the United States with its own partisan, political viewpoint.”