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Trump threatens to close down social media platforms after Twitter labels his tweets
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Trump threatens to close down social media platforms after Twitter labels his tweets

US President Donald Trump threatened to “strongly regulate” or close down social media platforms after Twitter’s decision to placed a fact-check link to two of his tweets.
On Wednesday, he wrote, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
On Tuesday, when Trump claimed that California’s move to send mail-in ballots to all voters would lead to widespread fraud, Twitter put a link on one of his tweets for the first time. The link, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” directed users to news stories debunking claims of election cheating. They have yet to do the same on his latest tweets, even though they make the same claims about mail-in voting.
Trump has been on a tear about Twitter’s action, while other Republicans have demanded that Twitter slap fact-check labels on Democrats’ tweets.
Trump’s threat to regulate the platforms isn’t entirely new. His former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, advanced the idea of classifying such platforms as Facebook and Google like utilities. But Trump’s administration has actually deregulated another part of the internet ecosystem, as the Republican-controlled FCC has rolled back net neutrality rules on internet providers like AT&T and Comcast.
Shutting down the platforms would take an act of Congress or perhaps the FCC or FTC. It also would provoke a constitutional challenge. The First Amendment limits the government’s attempts to regulate speech, not that of private platforms which have their own terms of service for users.
Still, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites enjoy broad immunity from third-party content placed on their sites via Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and that has been one avenue some Republicans have targeted as a way to fight what they see as bias against conservative voices. Last year, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a bill last year that would have amended the act to remove the liability protection unless the platforms could show via audit that their content removal practices were politically neutral.
The legislation did not garner any cosponsors, but Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) suggested on Tuesday that platforms should no longer get a shield from liability if they are exercising editorial judgments like a publisher. The Section 230 protects the platforms from defamation lawsuits over third party content posted on their sites.
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