On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would radically alter social media — and the internet at large — as we know it. The executive order would strip the protections of Section 230 from some internet companies, making them legally liable for user-posted content. Changing Section 230 could have devastating effects on tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, forcing them to defend themselves in court.
The executive order came after Twitter fact-checked one of President Trump’s tweets for the first time. Within days, Trump had accused Twitter of censorship and bias and drafted the executive order, seemingly as retribution. Early Friday morning, Twitter hid another Trump tweet, about the Minnesota protests, because the company said it violated policies against the “glorification of violence.”
Experts say the executive order’s interpretation of the law likely wouldn’t stand up in court. But the move could have a chilling effect on social media companies, potentially making them back off their fact-checking, which would have huge consequences as misinformation circulates.
Facebook, for its part, backs Section 230’s protections, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News that his company wouldn’t fact-check Trump. Meanwhile, Twitter doubled down, hiding a Trump tweet that hinted at violence against protesters in Minneapolis. The White House re-shared the offending tweet — and was also flagged by Twitter, hinting that this new war against Big Tech has just begun.