Trump signs order aimed at internet legal shield authored by Wyden

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A White House executive order signed after Twitter gave two of Trump's tweets a 'fact-checking label.'

President Trump signs executive order aimed at social media bias, May 28, 2020 (CBSN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — President Trump signed an executive order aimed at the legal protections for social media companies, which originated from a section of a 1995 federal law co-authored by Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden.

The reported executive order comes days after Twitter called two of President Donald Trump’s tweets “potentially misleading,” and marked it with a fact check. Wyden has called the order “plainly illegal” in a response Thursday.

It would allow regulators to claim free speech is being censored when internet companies delete users’ posts or accounts.

This comes after two of Trump’s tweets claiming mail-in voting leads to voter fraud were issued a fact-checking label from Twitter for the first time Tuesday. Trump escalated his already vocal criticisms of social media companies in response on Wednesday, threatening to impose new regulations on social media companies or even “to close them down.”

The draft executive order, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was hinted at in a tweet Trump made Thursday morning, saying that Thursday “will be a Big Day for Social Media and Fairness.”

The specific section of law the draft order seeks to curb is known as the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, which protects internet companies from liability for the content posted by users on their platforms.

Wyden called Trump’s planned executive order a move to illegally punish private companies and attempt to re-write Section 230 and the First Amendment as a way to “bully companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter into giving him favorable treatment … Giving in to bullying by this president may be the single most unpatriotic act an American could undertake.”

“Donald Trump’s order is plainly illegal. After driving our country into an economic and health care disaster, Trump is desperately trying to steal for himself the power of the courts and Congress to rewrite decades of settled law around Section 230. All for the ability to spread unfiltered lies,” Wyden continued in a statement Thursday.

Wyden added that nothing in Section 230 states that companies like Twitter are forced to carry misinformation about voting, especially from the president.

“Section 230 does not prevent Internet companies from moderating offensive or false content. And it does not change the First Amendment of the Constitution,” he said.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was passed in 1996 and co-authored by Wyden, who originally expressed concerns in August 1995 that “an army” of government censors could “spoil a lot of the Net’s promise.”

Trump’s position is that social media sites censor conservative voices and that they are attempting to interfere with the upcoming presidential election.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The president is a frequent Twitter user who has said the platform allows him to directly speak with the American people and supporters.

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