Trump Accuses Twitter of ‘Discrimination,’ Suggests Section 230 Is National Security Threat – Newsweek
Donald Trump today accused Twitter of “conservative discrimination” while once again criticizing how topics trend on the platform.
In a series of tweets, the outgoing president also suggested a law that gives the social media companies a degree of legal immunity against illegal content uploaded by their users—Section 230—should be revoked on grounds of national security.
“Twitter is sending out totally false ‘Trends’ that have absolutely nothing to do with what is really trending in the world,” Trump wrote on Friday.
“They make it up, and only negative ‘stuff’. Same thing will happen to Twitter as is happening to @FoxNews daytime. Also, big Conservative discrimination.”
In a second post doubling down on previous threats against the law, he added: “For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!”
Trump did not clarify in his tweet why Section 230 was considered a national security issue. The White House has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.
There is no evidence to suggest that Twitter is manipulating or falsifying trends, but it’s far from the first time Trump has questioned how the website’s algorithms work.
Twitter says trend results are tailored for the user, based on who a person follows, their interests and location. “This algorithm identifies topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter,” it explains in a blog.
But Trump has repeatedly suggested the algorithms are being rigged against him, while making vague references to Section 230, a provision of the Communication Decency Act 1996 that helps Facebook and Twitter to exist in their current forms.
“Why isn’t Biden corruption trending number one on Twitter? Biggest world story, and nowhere to be found. There is no ‘trend’, only negative stories that Twitter wants to put up. Disgraceful! Section 230,” the president tweeted October 28.
Earlier this month, Trump said that Twitter was “out of control” after it applied labels to dozens of his posts, warning other users they contained misinformation.
In September, the president indicated in a tweet that his administration was studying the trend section as it was “so obvious” it contained bad or fake stories about him.
In May, he said Twitter was not combating “lies and propaganda” from the “Radical Left Democrat Party” and again threatened to revoke 230. That same month Trump unveiled an executive order which said the scope of the law needed to be “clarified.”
The legal threat was pitched by the Trump administration as a way of preventing online censorship by companies that had the ability to silence, censor or suppress.
The order asserted: “Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”
Experts noted there was a problem with the plan, mainly that revoking protection would force social networks to be more cautious about the content published to their platforms in the U.S., resulting in more censorship and enforcement, not less.
Regardless, there is a growing debate around Section 230 and whether it remains fit for purpose in the modern internet era among both Democrats and Republicans.
For his part, president-elect Joe Biden has previously suggested it should be revoked as social networks, specifically Facebook, spread viral misinformation.
The consequences of revoking the law, an unlikely approach, could be far-reaching and felt by all websites, experts previously told Newsweek. It protects YouTube uploads, Amazon user reviews, blogs, forums and any website used to post classified ads.