Trump Regime

Be Careful What You Wish For

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Trump threatened to shut down Twitter and other social media companies in response to the former's decision to fact-check just one of his thousands of misleading tweets, but he can't actually do that.

Trump can't shut down a company just because they made him mad, but he can sign an executive order that could potentially open Pandora's box to many unintended consequences.

The executive order that Trump will supposedly sign today would represent an attempt to repeal the immunity law that shields platforms from liability for content posted by their users.

The Trump administration is preparing an executive order intended to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for what gets posted on their platforms, two senior administration officials said early Thursday.

Such an order, which officials said was still being drafted and was subject to change, would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts, among other examples.

This what happens when a few politically-motivated brain geniuses try to rewrite the law on a whim.

The effect of this would not be what they say at all. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Trump's executive order will reportedly amend, shields companies when their users post illegal content such as child pornography, for example, or explicit threats of physical violence or video of some other crime. Social media companies still have a responsbility to remove the content and notify authorities, but they can't be held legally liable for the fact that it was posted to begin with.

The result of repealing their immunity would be more self-censorship of their private platforms, not less, as they try to cover their ass from content that may be illegal.

Now, if you've paid any attention at all since at least the 1990s, you would know that conservative typically post the most shit that is legally dubious. The popular right wing shit-posting platform, 4Chan, immediately stands out. But even Trump's tweets may fall into this category. What's to stop Twitter from being held legally responsible for hosting Trump's accusations of murder and other insanities?

The solution wouldn't be to stop fact checks; it would be to kick Trump and many other people off the platform which is exactly what Twitter should have done years ago. Better remove all those Online Nazis before they destroy your company, right? That's what repealing their immunity would actually lead to: even fewer platforms for the right wing.

  • muselet

    Amusingly, a conservative legal expert (not necessarily an oxymoron) pointed out that one possible way this could backfire would be for social media platforms to become completely hands-off (in order to protect themselves legally) and get swamped by content Righties claim to deplore, like porn.

    I almost wrote that there’s no chance this executive order won’t fail in every single court, but then I realized who’s on the Supreme Court.

    All this because Twitter dared to suggest a couple of Donald Trump’s tweets weren’t factually accurate. Good grief.

    –alopecia