US president Donald Trump has signed an executive order on preventing online censorship. This order targets social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and allows regulators to pursue legal actions towards these companies for the content posted on the platforms.
Currently, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, large social media companies cannot be sued for much of the content posted by others using their sites, according to CNBC. Trump clarified that this immunity should not be used "over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints."
Citing his reason to protect the free speech rights of Americans, Trump said, in the official executive order text, that when large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they "exercise a dangerous power". He added that the country cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the Internet. According to Trump, social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have immense power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.
This comes just days after Trump tweeted that he would "strongly regulate" or shut down social media platforms before allowing them to "silence conservative voices". This decision stemmed from an incident where Twitter placed a fact-check label on Trump's tweet, which said that mail-in ballots for the upcoming presidential election in November "will be anything less than substantially fraudulent", and that mail boxes "will be robbed, ballots will be forged and even illegally printed out and fraudulently signed". Upon clicking on fact-check label, users will be taken to a Twitter Moments page that contains news from sources such as The Washington Post, CNN and NBC News, and fact-checks regarding Trump's claims.