President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that could open the door for the U.S. government to assume oversight of political speech on the Internet, a broadside against Silicon Valley many critics view as a threat to free speech.
“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers,” Trump said before signing the document.
The order would prompt federal officials to open a proceeding to reconsider the scope of the law, the people familiar with the document said. A change could mean potentially dramatic free-speech implications and wide-ranging consequences for a broad swath of companies reliant on doing business on the Internet.
The order would also seek to channel complaints about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission, which would be encouraged to probe whether tech companies’ content-moderation policies are in keeping with their pledges of neutrality. It would also require federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising, according to the people familiar with the White House’s thinking.
Below is the press release from Donald Trump’s campaign manager.
“Social media has been allowed to operate unchecked for years while enjoying the protection of federal law.
“These Silicon Valley giants have set themselves up as the arbiters of truth, censoring or labeling posts they disagree with, but they have shown that they cannot be trusted to be honest and fair.
“We have known for a long time that social media companies have it in for conservatives in general and President Trump specifically. There are various reasons we pulled our massive advertising spending from Twitter months ago, and their obvious political bias is one of them.
“In the most recent egregious act, Twitter targeted a Trump tweet, but still leaves alone posts from Joe Biden which are obvious lies, and outrageous propaganda claims from accounts linked to the Communist Chinese government.
“Since social media companies have not appropriately self-regulated to stop the bias on their own, President Trump has stepped in to make sure Silicon Valley is held accountable for trying to manipulate the American people. Good for him and good for America.”
– Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager