Donald Trump’s revenge falls on Twitter, his favorite social media that has suddenly turned into an enemy. 48 hours after the “clash” , provoked by Twitter’s decision to warn users of potentially false messages from the president, the punishment arrived. How effective it is, it is early to say. Tonight Trump signed an executive order (the equivalent of a decree) that should make it easier to prosecute social media like Twitter and Facebook if they take on the role of “moderators” of fake news, deleting posts or closing accounts. In this way, the decree tries to break down or weaken a legal shield that protects social media and online platforms.
Trump’s thesis is that these social networks have a progressive political agenda, that their role as moderators is not neutral, indeed in his words “they make activism”. In announcing the signing of the decree, he added that he would be ready to close his Twitter account. The latter threat is perhaps more disturbing – if true – to social media than from the daily use of the President of the United States has gained an increase in audience and a remarkable publicity. Trump said his move serves to “defend free speech against one of the biggest dangers”.
Asked by journalists about the possibility that the executive order would be blocked by appeals in court, he took it for granted: “Everyone is, right?” In fact, the history of decrees in the Trump era is full of reversals in court: to inaugurate this kind of battles between appeals and counter-appeals was one of the very first acts of his presidency, the so-called Muslim Ban with which he prohibited entry into United States to citizens of some Islamic nations. In this case the executive order will raise exceptions of unconstitutionality because it could violate the First Amendment, the one that protects freedom of expression and the press.
Furthermore, it is doubtful whether a presidential decree can erase the existing regulations that regulate the responsibilities of social media and protect them from legal actions. Certainly this decree enters the arsenal of the election campaign: Trump has always accused the newspapers and TV stations of being a left-wing majority, now he adds social media to the ranks of the enemies who persecute and boycott him.