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May 28, 2020, 5:27 p.m. EDT

Trump signs order aimed at curbing social-media companies amid brawl with Twitter

President accuses Twitter of ‘political activism’

By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch


Bloomberg News/Landov
President Donald Trump is embroiled in a fight with Twitter over its fact checks of his tweets about voting.

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order he says will limit liability protections enjoyed by social-media companies, as he escalated a fight with Twitter over its fact checks of his statements.

Trump’s order came after Twitter (NYS:TWTR)   on Tuesday said the president’s tweets about voting by mail contained “potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”

Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump accused Twitter of “political activism” and said “we’re here today to defend free speech.”

Trump said his order calls for new rules under the Communications Decency Act, “to make it that social-media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.” See text of order from White House web site .

Companies like Twitter and Facebook (NAS:FB)   are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms,” rather than “publishers,” which can face lawsuits over content.

Legal experts, meanwhile, said the order is largely political and toothless in terms of enforcement, but it could lay the groundwork for legislation.

Also read: Trump executive order to punish social-media platforms is largely toothless, legal experts say.

Trump’s order is almost certain to face legal challenges, and as the Associated Press noted, experts express doubts much can be done without an act of Congress .

Trump has long charged that social-media companies are biased against conservatives. He has said Google (NAS:GOOG)   (NAS:GOOGL)  search results for news about him contained only “fake” news, and said Twitter “should be sued” over “what’s happening with the bias.”

Trump also said he would delete his own Twitter account “in a heartbeat” if he believed the press were fair to him.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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