Trump's social media executive order could force social media to censor Trump

Trump in the Oval Office
(Image credit: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

There are a lot of legal, ethical, political, and constitutional questions about the executive order President Trump signed Thursday purporting to "defend free speech" by regulating social media companies. But there's also a practical one: Is Trump shooting himself in the foot?

Trump's executive order targets Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a foundational internet law that shields websites like social media companies from liability for most things users post to their sites. If Trump is successful, Twitter, Google, and Facebook "could face legal jeopardy if they allowed false and defamatory posts," Peter Baker and Daisuke Wakabayashi explain at The New York Times. "Without a liability shield, they presumably would have to be more aggressive about policing messages that press the boundaries — like the president's."

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