President Donald Trump has an insidious plan for his executive order in retaliation against social media that involves the White House and Department of Justice collecting information on Americans and monitoring them even when they are not on Facebook or Twitter.
Trump sent shockwaves through First Amendment advocates across the nation by hinting that an executive order would be forthcoming after Twitter fact-checked his lies about vote-by-mail, which he claims would result in mass voter fraud.
He went on to threaten to regulate or even shut down social media platforms and would go on to sign the executive order.
The executive order requires the FTC to determine whether social media platforms have broken any laws by booting users for posting content inconsistent with community standards and rules each individual company requires users to abide by.
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As private companies, the First Amendment protects them from the government, not the other way around. Also, these private companies are well within their rights to warn or punish users who violate the rules, including Trump.
But Trump’s order reportedly goes even further than that by turning the White House Office of Digital Strategy into a vehicle for conservatives to whine about being punished and to spy on Americans in concert with Attorney General Bill Barr’s Department of Justice.
According to Reuters:
The draft order also states that the White House Office of Digital Strategy will re-establish a tool to help citizens report cases of online censorship.
Called the White House Tech Bias Reporting Tool, it will collect complaints of online censorship and submit them to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The draft order also requires the Attorney General to establish a working group including state attorneys general that will examine the enforcement of state laws that prohibit online platforms from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts.
The working group will also monitor or create watch-lists of users based on their interactions with content or other users.”
NBC News technology correspondent Jacob Ward confirmed the details:
…directs the White House Office of Digital Strategy to collect publicly available information regarding “watch-lists of users based on their interaction with content or users” and “monitoring users based on their activity off the platform.”…
— Jacob Ward (@byjacobward) May 28, 2020
Basically, this is domestic surveillance unchained, which will be politically motivated to help Trump target and persecute his critics and political opponents. There’s no way that Barr and Trump are going to put conservatives on this watch-list even if they make outrageous threats or tell egregious lies on social media.
This is a move toward fascist rule, and a way for Trump to be more like the dictator he’s been fantasizing about becoming since taking office. And the whole thing is unconstitutional.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Justice Department
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