Trump to sign executive order targeting social media platforms after Twitter fact-checks him

Trump to sign executive order targeting social media platforms after Twitter fact-checks him
President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will on Thursday, May 28, sign an executive order focused on social media and it will happen amid a rift with Twitter over the microblogging site fact-checking his tweets. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters traveling on Air Force One on Wednesday, May 26, that an executive order was on its way by the day end though she could not give details about it. McEnany and reporters were traveling with Trump from Florida to Washington and her revelation came a day after Twitter asked its readers to fact-check some of the posts that the president made on the social media platform, related to mail-in voting. 

Later, White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah threw more light on the upcoming order saying the president would sign it on Thursday. Trump has been overly critical of Twitter after it wanted to fact-check his claims for the first time. In a series of tweets, he accused the social media giant of interfering in this year’s presidential election and stifling free speech. He said as long as he is the president, he would not allow that to happen.

In another tweet, the maverick commander-on-chief also alleged that the Republicans were feeling that social media platforms were not doing justice to conservative voices. In it, he said his administration would strongly regulate or close the social media platforms down. He equated the social media platform’s alleged injustice to conservative voices with mail-in ballots that he suspected would turn the upcoming election into a sham. He asked the social media platforms to “clean up” their act.

Trump accused social media platforms of 'terrible bias' last year

This is not the first time that Trump has accused the social media platforms of letting down conservative voices. In July last year, he attacked Facebook, Google, and Twitter at a social media summit at the White House saying they harbored “terrible bias” and silenced his supporters. “A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer,” Trump said in a tweet ahead of the event. 

The battle has been reignited again this year after Twitter ‘blue-flagged’ a couple of Trump’s tweets claiming negative consequences of mail-in balloting and advised the readers to fact-check them. It also said the president’s negative claims about mail-in voting were found to be “unsubstantiated” by fact-checkers at major news outlets like CNN, The Washington Post and others. This happened on the same day when Twitter refused to remove the president’s controversial remarks over the death of a woman staffer of former Congressman and currently a TV journalist, Joe Scarborough -- his friend-turned-foe -- insinuating that he killed her. The social media site sympathized with the family of the dead staffer, Lori Klausutis, but did not take down the president’s tweets even after her widower Timothy appealed to the company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey. 

Conservatives differ with Trump's stand on social media platforms

Trump’s tirade against the social media platforms, however, did not find solidarity from many Twitter users, including Republicans. Margot Cleveland, a prominent conservative, for example, differed with the president saying any private organization owns the right to decide on the content to be displayed on its platform. In a tweet, she said: “Pro Tip:  Saying Twitter is violating your constitutional right to free speech or your First Amendment rights is wacko b/c Twitter ain't the government. Saying Twitter is "stifling free speech" isn't.  Powerful private organizations can & do stifle speech.”

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus (Getty Images)

Screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxuach replied to Trump’s regulation proposal and asked him whether he is a socialist who is planning to regulate big businesses. Trump critic George Conway, a Republican and husband of the presidential counselor, Kellyanne Conway, also made his differences with Trump on the matter clear by reposting a tweet written by Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus: “Governments that restrict internet access deprive their citizens of the information they need to stay safe. #FreedomOfExpression both online and offline is vital, especially during COVID-19. @StateDept is proud to be an active member of the @FO_Coalition.”

Conway’s stand contradicting Trump became evident even though his spouse backed the president on the issue. She told Fox in an interview on Wednesday, May 27 that Trump’s tweets are fact-checked by people who are always attacking him. She was particularly critical of Twitter’s ‘Site Integrity’ chief Yoel Roth for his past tweets that attacked Trump, his administration, and even Kellyanne. 

Trump’s battle with Twitter got intensified after he made a blistering attack on the idea of holding mail-in ballots which is being promoted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, suspecting that it would lead to widespread corruption and make the election procedure into a mockery.
Trump locked horns with Twitter at a time when the US has seen its pandemic death toll going past 100,000.

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