On Tuesday Twitter flagged two of President Trump's tweets as misleading with two, tiny blue exclamation points -- like two proton torpedoes blasting through Trump's gaping exhaust port of bullshit. Now the Emperor has struck back, setting in motion a new executive order that will attack the Communications Decency Act. Section 230, which states "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." It is basically the "the legislation that provides broad immunity to websites that curate and moderate their own platforms" and is a law that is described by legal experts as "The 26 words that created the Internet."
In addition to this, Trump also wants to implement "The White House Tech Bias Reporting Tool" which would then let citizens submit complaints to the FTC and the Justice Department if they feel they're getting treated unfairly by social media companies. Think of this as the "I'd like to speak to your manager" for social media platforms. It might be tempting to look at all this bluster as a whiny boy who isn't getting his way (I know I did), but there's also a more sinister move at play here. Trump's entire campaign rests on blurring the lines between truth and reality, and this executive order is an attempt to piss all over those lines.
Fortunately, there's little chance, as of now, of Trump's order going through. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple throwing out a suit filed by right-wing activists on the grounds that the First Amendment applies only to government entities and not private companies. Of course, this battle is not over. Twitter and Facebook are already fighting amongst themselves, with Zuckerberg saying, "We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this. I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online." Twitter founder Jack Dorsey responded with, "Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves."
The whole thing is a mess, but even as Big Tech struggles to sort itself out, (Zuckerberg later went to Twitter's defense saying, "I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they're worried about censorship doesn't exactly strike me as the right reflex there."), it'll be telling to see what Trump does next. For a long time, we've wondered who's really pulling the strings in this country. Is it the Government, or is it the Tech Industry? We may soon find out after this epic clash of titans, but rest assured, it certainly isn't the citizens.
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