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Trump to target social media with executive order

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WASHINGTON: US Presi­dent Donald Trump was set to target social media giants like Twitter, which he accuses of bias against him, with an executive order opening them to new regulation.

“This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” Trump said on Twitter.

The wording of the executive order remained under wraps. A White House spokeswoman on Wednesday said only that it would be “pertaining to social media.” But Trump is on the warpath against Twitter after the platform for the first time labelled two of his tweets, on the increasingly contentious topic of mail-in voting, with fact-check notices.

Although he is the dominant US political presence on Twitter and Facebook, a fight with social media also plays into Trump’s narrative ahead of his difficult November reelection battle that liberal forces are trying to censor the right.

Leaked versions of the executive order in US media suggest that Trump will seek to remove liability protections that the social media giants enjoy over content they publish, thereby opening them to legal action and more government oversight.

A draft of the order reported by CNN accuses platforms of not showing the “good faith” required under their current self-regulating status. It attacks online platforms for damaging free expression by being able to “hand-pick the speech that Americans may access.”

The constitution “clearly prohibits the president from taking any action to stop Twitter from pointing out his blatant lies about voting by mail,” Kate Ruane, at the American Civil Liberties Union, said.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2020

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