As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Trump is rummaging through the executive order toy box again, this time to punish tech companies that are mean to him. This morning, he tweet-screamed the following: “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” Reuters reporters saw a draft of the EO and provided an overview in the wee hours:
The executive order would call for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to propose and clarify regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law largely exempting online platforms from legal liability for the material their users post. Such changes could expose tech companies to more lawsuits.
The order asks the FCC to examine whether actions related to the editing of content by social media companies should potentially lead to the firms forfeiting their protections under section 230.
It requires the agency to look at whether a social media platform uses deceptive policies to moderate content and if its policies are inconsistent with its terms of service.
The draft order also states that the White House Office of Digital Strategy will re-establish a tool to help citizens report cases of online censorship. The tool will collect complaints of online censorship and submit them to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
It requires the FTC to look into whether complaints violate the law, develop a report describing such complaints and make the report publicly available.
It’s so confusing when creeping authoritarianism arrives not in jackboots but in a soiled diaper. Maybe I’ll regret not being more alarmed by this, but my initial take is that Trump is putting on a show, much as House Republicans did when they held hearings on alleged Big Tech bias against conservatives.
That event featured clowns like Diamond and Silk whining about their alleged “shadow-banning” on Facebook, which turned out to be a misunderstanding of how settings affect content delivery. The FTC complaints report will likely provide a similar outlet for idiotic grievance-mongering.
Maybe Trump’s real object was this, also from the linked Reuters piece:
Twitter’s shares were down over 4 percent in pre-market trade on Thursday. Facebook fell nearly 2 percent and Google was down 1 percent.
Stock market manipulation is included in Trump’s extremely limited skill set. But the real point is the splashy announcement. It always is with Trump, from licensing deals for sketchy real estate development schemes to the commission investigating non-existent voter fraud to the Ukraine shakedown and the recent “Obamagate” meeping.
I’m more worried about Big Tech’s subversion of democracy and society for its own moneymaking purposes than anything the crybaby in the White House might do.