Does Trump have the power to shut down social media companies?

Trump claims he can shut down social media companies, but that isn’t necessarily true

Trump at press conference

President Donald Trump is no stranger to slinging controversy on Twitter. This week, however, marked the first time that the company took action against him by marking two of his tweets as containing misinformation. How did President Trump handle the labeling of these tweets? Trump threatened to shut down social media companies altogether. 

While he’s drafted and signed an executive order that challenges rules aimed at protecting these sites from litigation, Trump can’t actually shut down Twitter, Facebook or any other social platforms that he’s deemed as unworthy. 

For President Trump, the issue at hand really comes down to the First Amendment. The President has frequently accused Twitter of censoring conservative voices, and he echoed this sentiment in response to Twitter labeling his tweets as containing misinformation, tweeting that “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!”

The thing is that Twitter’s a private company, meaning it’s in no way violating the President’s First Amendment rights by labeling his tweets. Unlike the government, Twitter can moderate its users’ speech as it pleases. It can also do so without legal penalty, much to the President’s dismay.

While President Trump likely won’t be successful in shutting down social media companies altogether, he could certainly make it harder for the platforms to operate. As reported today, President Trump has drafted an executive order targeting Section 230, a law that protects tech companies from litigation over user content.

Regardless of what happens, President Trump has already used the labeling of his tweets to bolster his claims that tech companies aim to silence conservative voices. The President may also use the labeled tweets to distract the public from other issues: the coronavirus pandemic, the dwindling job market and even the upcoming election.

Featured Resources

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Recommended

The IT Pro Podcast: The power of disinformation
social media

The IT Pro Podcast: The power of disinformation

11 Dec 2020
Twitter hires new cyber chief after devastating breach
Security

Twitter hires new cyber chief after devastating breach

1 Oct 2020
Twitter to make AI algorithm open source to scour for biases
machine learning

Twitter to make AI algorithm open source to scour for biases

21 Sep 2020
Twitter expands civic integrity policy ahead of US election
social media

Twitter expands civic integrity policy ahead of US election

11 Sep 2020

Most Popular

University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack
cyber attacks

University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack

15 Apr 2021
Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021