Washington — The White House is preparing an executive order that could take aim at the legal shield that social media companies enjoy for content posted by users on their platforms, a senior administration official tells CBS News, as President Trump ramps up his attacks on tech giants over alleged censorship and a first-ever fact check on his own tweets.
The official said the order is intended to curb legal protections for social media companies that shield them from liability for content like comments, posts and videos. The order is still being drafted and reviewed, the official said, but would allow regulators to claim internet companies are censoring free speech when they delete users’ posts or accounts.
Mr. Trump’s executive order, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is certain to face legal challenges. He hinted at the order in a tweet Thursday morning, writing that Thursday “will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!”
The relevant portion of federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, provides the shield for Internet companies, as it protects them from liability for the material posted by users on their platforms. The measure has been in place for more than two decades, though some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have targeted Section 230 and are calling for changes to the law that would weaken its protections.
While the president’s criticisms of Twitter and Facebook are not new, his battle with the social media giants escalated Wednesday after Twitter for the first time included a fact-checking label to two tweets claiming mail-in voting leads to voter fraud.
“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,” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Later Wednesday night, the president claimed tech giants were attempting to interfere in the upcoming presidential election, saying they are “doing everything in their very considerable power to censor in advance of the 2020 election.”
“Stay tuned,” he teased to his more than 80 million Twitter followers.
Mr. Trump has suggested in the past that U.S. regulators should sue social media companies and accused them of suppressing and censoring conservatives on their platforms. The White House last year held a social media summit with conservative groups that excluded Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Still, the president is an avid Twitter user and says the platform allows him to speak directly with supporters and the American people.