August 13, 2019

US – #WeeklyAddress: August 5 – August 11: Trump administration floats draft of social media “censorship” executive order

Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of August 5 – August 11:

Trump administration floats draft of social media “censorship” executive order

The White House floated a draft of an executive order which could put the impetus on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate the way social media platforms moderate content on their websites, CNN reported August 10. Dubbed “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship,” the draft order would charge the FCC and FTC with creating new regulations that determine when social media platforms are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in their decisions to suppress or delete content. In its present form, the draft could undermine Section 230 and significantly impact how people post online. This comes amid mounting accusations from President Trump against social media companies like Twitter and Facebook of systemic, yet unproven, anti-conservative bias. This is not the first time the White House has made efforts to take action against this unproven bias; in May, it launched a website inviting citizens to report perceived instances of anti-conservative bias on social media and in July, the President held a meeting with right-wing social media activists to air their grievances.


President Trump paints media as hate-mongers in the wake of two mass shootings

Just days after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump took to Twitter on August 5 to blame “Fake News,” which he said has “contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.” The president tweeted this amidst public scrutiny that he had fueled the shooter in El Paso with the anti-immigrant rhetoric of his presidency and presidential campaign, which was mirrored in the shooter’s manifesto. In a 2,300-word diatribe posted on the online forum 8chan, the shooter made references to an “invasion” to quell at the US-Mexico border and “Fake News,” among other classic Trumpian language. The shootings, which left at least 31 people dead, are the latest in a swell of mass shootings that have ravaged the United States in recent years.



U.S. PRESS FREEDOM TRACKER: Colorado reporter and chief photojournalist assaulted, equipment attacked

The United States ranks 48th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index

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