After Twitter censored two of his tweets for being "potentially misleading," President Donald Trump on Thursday introduced a decree targeting social media companies.
Before signing the decree from the Oval Office, Trump declared that the measure is to "defend freedom of expression from one of the most serious dangers it has faced in the history of the United States."
"Small lobbies have a monopoly on social media, controlling a huge part of all public and private communications in the United States," he alleged. "They have dedicated themselves to censoring, restricting, editing, hiding, shaping and altering practically all forms of communication between private citizens and large public audiences."
The decree seeks to reduce the power of large social media platforms by reinterpreting a major 1996 law that protects websites and tech companies from lawsuits. In this way, it constitutes a dramatic move on the part of Trump in his war with technology companies as they struggle with the growing problem of disinformation on social media. There are already many times in which the president has accused sites of censoring conservative discourse.
However, legal experts claim the decree is unstable and potentially unconstitutional, as it seeks to bypass Congress and bypass the courts to arrive at a completely different understanding of the Communications Decency Act.
"A decree alone cannot change the law," said Tom Wheeler, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. "This was done for the purpose of political intimidation."