Here is Trump’s plan on Twitter, Facebook and various social networks. Purposes, problems and unknowns

Here is Trump's plan on Twitter, Facebook and various social networks. Purposes, problems and unknowns

Trump has signed an executive order for Twitter, Facebook and beyond, explaining that with his provision social media will no longer have legal immunity against any lawsuits for the content of their platforms. Facts and comments in Marco Orioles' article

No sooner said than done. Two days after the incident between Donald Trump and Twitter, guilty of reporting a President's chirping as mendacious, and 24 hours after the threat of revenge by issuing a measure that would have canceled the legal immunity enjoyed by social platforms in the system American, the US president yesterday signed his signature on what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most controversial executive orders of the Trump administration.

He did it with great waste of rhetoric. "We are here today," he said in front of the White House reporters, "to defend freedom of expression from one of the most serious dangers that has run in American history."

Danger represented, according to Trump , by a "small group of powerful social media monopolies" who have two major flaws on which it was urgent to intervene: "They control the largest portion of all public and private communications in the United States" (also if this is antitrust matter on which the order remains silent) and above all – by virtue of a congenital defect, that is "They have points of view" – they have "an unlimited power to censor, limit, shape, hide, alter" the free flows of human communication.

These are the same concepts that broke through the executive order signed yesterday. "When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions they disagree on, they exercise dangerous power," reads the draft obtained by The Hill . And again: "We cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to choose the discourse that Americans can access and broadcast on the Net."

Clear concepts, which betray an inveterate conviction of the Republican Party exploded in an open clash after Dorsey's confrontation with Trump: Twitter, Facebook and all the other platforms have immense power, but a law dating back to 1996 – the now famous Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act – provides them with a legal shield that makes them criminally irresponsible with respect to what they publish – making the power they hold absolute.

"At the moment," explained Trump from the Oval Office, "social media giants like Twitter have an unprecedented legal shield that is based on the theory that they are neutral platforms, which is absolutely not true."

With Justice Minister William Barr at his side, Trump made clear how that order intends to plug the leak. Assuming that social media behave neither more nor less than traditional publishers in managing their content, and that therefore they should not be protected from any type of immunity, the White House aims to mobilize the Federal Communication Commission first and then, in the second instance, the Congress to reinterpret the provisions of the Communication Decency Act and expose the legal protections guaranteed to online companies.

"When they intervene on content," said Barr and Trump, those companies "behave like other publishers," and therefore cannot be entitled to that protection. If therefore the line of the White House passes, it would open the way for a new interpretation of the law which would lead to consider Twitter and the other platforms as normal publishers with specific legal obligations.

So if this is Trump's next field battle, we will see some really good ones. In fact, not only is the material incandescent, and the moods of the various contenders tending towards warlike, but the chances of a lightning victory are in the light, if not zero.

Beyond the obvious condemnation of the rivals Dem, the FCC's clear unwillingness to take on the role entrusted to it by the presidential order must be discounted. Symptomatic in this sense appear the words of one of the commissioners, Jennifer Rosenworcel : "social media can make you angry, but an executive order that would transform the commission into the president's expression police is not the answer".

Secondly, not even the president's friends seem fully convinced of his sortie. Many, on the contrary, fear like the plague an "administrative state" that claims the right to censor citizens' free communications with the aggravating circumstance of providing the feared liberal activists and lawyers with the possibility of dragging uncomfortable characters to court.

But there is an even more compelling reason that explains why the Trumpian proposal does not fully convince even his own and explains Patrick Hedger , a researcher at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: “Conservatives must appreciate the fact that social media have attributed a lot of power a lot of new entries to the right and it has allowed them to gain millions of followers and billions of views. " Seen from this perspective, Trump's order is therefore equivalent to shooting himself in the foot.

But the front that the Trumpians must fear most is that of the courts, which in a quarter of a century have abundantly shown that they considered Section 230 as cast gold and would certainly drag the executive order into the Caudine gallows.

Kate Klonick , a professor at St. John's University School of Law of New York, has no doubts. As well as remembering that "it is not for the President to interpret federal law, he underlined how in the American courts they have accumulated in these 25 years so many precedents in favor of Section 230 to make the idea of ​​a sudden change very remote.

Even more acute is the position of Daphne Keller , a professor at Stanford Law School, for whom Trump's order is "95% political and theater rhetoric that has no legal effect and is inconsistent with what the courts say". And even if the order continues its process, Keller points out, it would soon find itself challenged by a portentous obstacle such as the first amendment of the Constitution in which, the teacher is convinced, that order commits the most serious of abuses.

Who, not surprisingly, is perfectly aware of all this is Trump, who when asked by journalists on the possibility that his order will be blocked by appeals in court, took it for granted: "Everyone is, right?".

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Fri, 29 May 2020 06:34:57 +0000.