Trump vs. Twitter

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Trump wouldn’t be Trump if he wasn’t looking for someone or something he can act against on Twitter. There are many examples of this. The fact that he doesn’t always take the facts very closely is also well known. Until recently, Twitter always let that go, while the company does remove tweets from ‘ordinary’ people or, in the case of notorious violators of the rules, blocks accounts. Twitter became increasingly critical of this and therefore decided to do fact-checking. It placed a warning on a few of Donald Trump’s tweets that they might contain untruths, referring to articles where the president’s claims could be checked. 

Of course, the U.S. president can’t let something like that happen by itself, because he thinks Twitter’s action is a form of censorship and a violation of his freedom of speech. That is why he started a real Twitter facility with social media platforms in general and of course with Twitter in particular. He already threatened to do so, but yesterday he actually issued a decree calling for an investigation into new or additional legislation on the Communications Decency Act for social media companies and which should hold them responsible for the content of their sites, regardless of whether it is posted by them or not. According to the Communications Decency Act, social media platforms may remove or censor messages that have been reviewed in good faith and that they consider to have objectionable content (‘obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable’).

Twitter immediately came up with a reaction, stating that the presidential decree is in fact a threat to freedom of expression. The hallmark of a platform, as social media companies are defined by law, is that they cannot be held responsible by law for the messages posted by their users.

The Communications Decency Act gives them legal protection against possible lawsuits. With the now signed decree, Trump wants to give users the possibility to file a complaint at the moment that, in their eyes, content placed by them is wrongfully removed, or they are blocked. Although it is very doubtful whether this decree will stand up in court, the Twitter share price ended the day yesterday with a minus of 4.45 percent.

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