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Trump signs executive order targeting social media giants

Washington DC: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at stripping social media giants like Twitter and Facebook of legal immunity for the content posted by third-party users.

The order comes a day after Trump accused Twitter of election interference, after it added fact-check links to two of his tweets.

"Today I'm signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people. Currently, social media giants, like Twitter, receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they're a neutral platform - which they're an editor with a viewpoint," Trump told reporters after he signed an executive order on Thursday.

The executive order calls for new regulations, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.

"That's a big deal. They have a shield; they can do what they want. They have a shield. They're not going to have that shield," Trump asserted.

Trump said that the executive order further instructs the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce. This authority resides in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, he said.

Trump also said he was directing the Attorney General to work cooperatively with the States.

"He's going to be working very much and very closely in cooperation with the states to enforce their own laws against such deceptive business practices. The states have brought in powerful authority to regulate in this arena, and they'll be doing it also and we encourage them to do it - if they see exactly as we've been seeing," he noted.

The President said that a handful of powerful social media monopolies controlled a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States.

"We know what they are; we don't have to name them," he said.

These social media outlets have had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences, he said.

"There's no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction. And that includes individual people controlling vast amounts of territory,"

he said.

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