WASHINGTON — After President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order asking federal agencies to look into regulating social media giants like Twitter, some worry the move could create a dangerous precedent.
“It’s something that should worry us all,” Carl Szabo of NetChoice, which advocates for tech companies like Twitter, TikTok and Facebook in Washington, said of the president’s order. “You should be very worried about handing this type of power and authority over to the White House because it could be turned against you.”
Earlier this week, Twitter took the unprecedented step of flagging two of Trump’s tweets in which he said more mail-in voting would increase fraud, with the social media platform providing links to news articles debunking such claims. Trump said the move stifled his freedom of speech.
“As president, I will not allow the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations,” he said in announcing his executive order.
Twitter has used the same fact-checking tool on tweets by world leaders in China and Brazil — and with good reason, Democrats say.
“I absolutely think that’s a part of your obligation because that is a form of today’s media,” Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said. “This is a man that told people to take Lysol.”
“Social media platforms have a responsibility to supply accurate information,” agreed Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Even some Republicans have pushed back against other baseless claims from the president, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger calling on Trump to stop accusing MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough of murder.
“It’s time to quit the conspiracies,” Kinzinger, R-Ill., said.
Other Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri have defended the president, calling Twitter’s fact check “editorialized content.” He is pushing regulation to enforce more strict regulation of tech companies.