Is President Trump putting Silicon Valley on alert?
Several drafts of an executive order designed to combat alleged anti-conservative bias by social-media companies are currently in circulation at the White House, according to a Trump administration official and two individuals close to the matter.
This comes after the president vowed at a gathering of right-wing social-media personalities last month to explore “all regulatory and legislative solutions” to the issue.
None of the three sources provided specific details of the order, which is apparently in a state of flux.
The White House official indicated that President Trump is interested in bringing fairness to a digital ecosystem that users say favors liberalism.
“If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,” the source told Politico.
“But look, we also think that social media plays a vital role,” the individual added. “They have a vital role and an increasing responsibility to the culture that has helped make them so profitable and so prominent.”
The sources also claimed that the executive order will deal with other topics beside tech bias. It is allegedly in early draft stages and is not expected to be released immediately.
The major social-media platforms have repeatedly been accused of bias against conservatives for demonetizing, censoring, and outright banning right-wing personalities, such as Milo Yiannopoulos and InfoWars’ Alex Jones.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google (which also owns YouTube) have denied the accusations, saying that they only take punitive action against users who violate community standards.
These standards often take the form of “hate speech” policies that restrict speech critical of migration, the LGBTQ agenda, and other issues favored by the Left.
The John Birch Society, which publishes The New American, was hit with a “hate speech” violation by Facebook last month for sharing a post that promoted TNA’s “Immigrant Invasion” issue. The front cover of the magazine includes a photograph of real migrants illegally climbing the U.S.-Mexico border fence.
During the White House gathering in July, the president told conservative media personalities that he would find ways to “protect free speech and the free-speech rights of all Americans.”
But the president’s willingness to use federal authority to crack down on social-media censorship opens a dilemma: Does using government to force companies to respect free speech pave the way for abuse by the government itself?
Indeed, the president’s own Republican appointees in some regulatory agencies are skeptical about taking strong action against tech companies.
“There’s very little in terms of direct regulation the federal government can do without congressional action, and frankly I think that’s a positive thing,” said John Morris, who, until May, oversaw Internet policy issues at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Morris continued: “Although the government may be able to support and assist online platforms’ efforts to reduce hate and violence online, the government should not try to impose speech regulations on private platforms. As politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have historically urged, the government should not be in the business of regulating speech.”
Conservatives have for years opposed efforts to revive the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, which required balanced programming by broadcasters on controversial issues. The Heritage Foundation argued that “FCC bureaucrats can neither determine what is ‘fair’ nor enforce it.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who was appointed by President Trump, has tweeted that “outsourcing censorship to the government is not just a bad idea, it would violate the First Amendment. I’m a no.”
Some lawmakers have floated the idea of repealing Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from liability for content their users post.
“If big tech wants to be partisan political speakers, it has that right,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in April. “But it has no entitlement to a special immunity from liability under Section 230 ... that nobody else enjoys other than big tech.”
Those who wish to curtail the growing issue of censorship on increasingly important digital platforms will have to answer an important question: Would federal intervention be a case of the remedy being worse than the illness?
Image: juststock via iStock / Getty Images Plus
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.