Trump issued an executive order pushing back against social media censorship

Conservatives know that the tech giants, whether social media platforms or search engines, have consistently sought to silence conservative viewpoints. Trump’s more extreme tweets of late were probably intended to goad Twitter into censoring him, and Twitter took the bait on his tweets about mail-in ballots and voter fraud. Once Twitter engaged in overt political censorship, it gave Trump the opening he needed to expose the tech titans to expensive lawsuits and FCC oversight.

It’s no secret that Big Tech, which is located almost exclusively in the uber-leftist Bay Area, leans left. From top management down to the recently hired college graduate, these institutions seek to push a leftist agenda using their power over the flow of almost all information in America. Twitter bans and shadow-bans conservatives, YouTube restricts and demonetizes conservative sites, and Google uses algorithms that force viewpoint discrimination on its searches. Vox has openly admitted that the tech titans plan to use their vast power over information traffic to elect Joe Biden

After Google, via its YouTube subsidiary, demonetized Prager U videos and hid them from searches, Prager U sued both Google and YouTube in a California federal court. The lower court said that Google, as a private business, wasn’t subject to First Amendment limitations, a ruling the 9th Circuit upheld. (In leftist land, the baker must bake the gay wedding cake, but the largest gatekeeper of information in America can do whatever the hell it wants.)  

Trump,  naturally,  knows that Big Techs viewpoint discrimination is a problem. He’s known since the day he was elected that the tech giants will use their tremendous power to prevent his reelection. His problem has been that his hands have been tied.

When Trump had a Republican congress, that would have been an excellent time to push through legislation akin to the Civil Rights of 1964, recognizing that the tech titans are places of public accommodation for ideas and that they therefore cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination. Unfortunately, the Russia Hoax, combined with RINO hostility, prevented him from acting. Then, when the House went to the Democrats in 2018, Trump lost any chance of using legislation to tamp down on Silicon Valley’s biased stranglehold on public discourse.

Trump has now done the next best thing. He baited Twitter to comment (incorrectly) on one of his purely political tweets. When Twitter took the bait, it provided an opening for Trump to issue an Executive Order striking at the tech giants’ status as non-publishers, something that has kept them immune from defamation lawsuits and FCC oversight.

The EO begins with a masterful summary of the problems with social media companies:

Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

[snip]

Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse. Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms "flagging" content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.

Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician's tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets. Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called "Site Integrity" has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.

The EO then explains that 47 U.S.C. § 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act has protected the tech companies by holding them harmless from content in third party material on their sites. The goal was to allow social media companies and search engines to delete sex trafficking, terrorism, threats, and other dangerous and illegal content without turning them into custodians and publishers of that content who then could be sued.

What the tech titans have been doing of late, however, is to remove or flag third-party viewpoints with which they disagree. Trump’s requires the agencies tasked with enforcing the Communications Decency Act to recognize that, once the tech giants start interfering with third-party ideas on their sites, they’ve become publishers and have given up their immunity.

Contrary to some claims, this will not end comments on websites. As long as the website owner deletes only imminently dangerous and illegal material (threats, sex trafficking, etc.) but leaves viewpoints intact, the owner is safe. Nor will it end social media, provided that Facebook, Twitter, and the others stop flagging or deleting political statements with which they disagree.

Trump cleverly created an opening, and then he took advantage of it with the best weapons available. In the interests of a free election, we can only hope that these weapons are enough.

Conservatives know that the tech giants, whether social media platforms or search engines, have consistently sought to silence conservative viewpoints. Trump’s more extreme tweets of late were probably intended to goad Twitter into censoring him, and Twitter took the bait on his tweets about mail-in ballots and voter fraud. Once Twitter engaged in overt political censorship, it gave Trump the opening he needed to expose the tech titans to expensive lawsuits and FCC oversight.

It’s no secret that Big Tech, which is located almost exclusively in the uber-leftist Bay Area, leans left. From top management down to the recently hired college graduate, these institutions seek to push a leftist agenda using their power over the flow of almost all information in America. Twitter bans and shadow-bans conservatives, YouTube restricts and demonetizes conservative sites, and Google uses algorithms that force viewpoint discrimination on its searches. Vox has openly admitted that the tech titans plan to use their vast power over information traffic to elect Joe Biden

After Google, via its YouTube subsidiary, demonetized Prager U videos and hid them from searches, Prager U sued both Google and YouTube in a California federal court. The lower court said that Google, as a private business, wasn’t subject to First Amendment limitations, a ruling the 9th Circuit upheld. (In leftist land, the baker must bake the gay wedding cake, but the largest gatekeeper of information in America can do whatever the hell it wants.)  

Trump,  naturally,  knows that Big Techs viewpoint discrimination is a problem. He’s known since the day he was elected that the tech giants will use their tremendous power to prevent his reelection. His problem has been that his hands have been tied.

When Trump had a Republican congress, that would have been an excellent time to push through legislation akin to the Civil Rights of 1964, recognizing that the tech titans are places of public accommodation for ideas and that they therefore cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination. Unfortunately, the Russia Hoax, combined with RINO hostility, prevented him from acting. Then, when the House went to the Democrats in 2018, Trump lost any chance of using legislation to tamp down on Silicon Valley’s biased stranglehold on public discourse.

Trump has now done the next best thing. He baited Twitter to comment (incorrectly) on one of his purely political tweets. When Twitter took the bait, it provided an opening for Trump to issue an Executive Order striking at the tech giants’ status as non-publishers, something that has kept them immune from defamation lawsuits and FCC oversight.

The EO begins with a masterful summary of the problems with social media companies:

Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.

In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.

[snip]

Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse. Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms "flagging" content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.

Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician's tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets. Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called "Site Integrity" has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.

The EO then explains that 47 U.S.C. § 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act has protected the tech companies by holding them harmless from content in third party material on their sites. The goal was to allow social media companies and search engines to delete sex trafficking, terrorism, threats, and other dangerous and illegal content without turning them into custodians and publishers of that content who then could be sued.

What the tech titans have been doing of late, however, is to remove or flag third-party viewpoints with which they disagree. Trump’s requires the agencies tasked with enforcing the Communications Decency Act to recognize that, once the tech giants start interfering with third-party ideas on their sites, they’ve become publishers and have given up their immunity.

Contrary to some claims, this will not end comments on websites. As long as the website owner deletes only imminently dangerous and illegal material (threats, sex trafficking, etc.) but leaves viewpoints intact, the owner is safe. Nor will it end social media, provided that Facebook, Twitter, and the others stop flagging or deleting political statements with which they disagree.

Trump cleverly created an opening, and then he took advantage of it with the best weapons available. In the interests of a free election, we can only hope that these weapons are enough.