Just two days after Twitter marked two of his tweets – one dealing with the security of voting by mail – with fact-check tags, President Trump signed an Executive Order encouraging a change to federal law referred to as Section 230 that provides liability protections to social media firms.
The EO seeks to task the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with examining the reach of the current law and give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to handle political bias complaints.
Social media companies’ practices have been more closely scrutinized after Russia successfully leverage their platforms to engage in a wide-ranging disinformation campaign leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Trump has long accused them of bias and trying to squelch the conservative voice.
Claiming that “nothing in the EO is about substantive policy,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said, “We are still in the middle of an election year and in the middle of a pandemic; there is much more we can do to make our elections more safe and more secure – while also insisting social media companies do their part to stem the tide of misinformation and extremist content on their sites.”
After coming under fire for factchecking the president’s tweets, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended the move. “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally,” he tweeted Wednesday.
“While re-working Twitter algorithms to flag misinformation is a good first step,” particularly during a pandemic where misinformation swirls, former White House CIO Theresa Payton, CEO at Fortalice, said, “there must be transparency in the process.”