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Pelosi: Trump Order Cracking Down on Social Media Firms ‘Outrageous’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks about the “Heroes Act,” a proposal for the next phase of coronavirus relief legislation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 12, 2020. (Saul Loeb/Reuters)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday criticized President Trump’s planned executive order to limit liability protections for social media companies as “silly,” but also lamented what she called Twitter’s “selective” enforcement of fact-checking standards.

On Tuesday, Twitter placed a fact-check label on a series of Trump’s tweets in which he criticized voting-by-mail as susceptible to fraud. Trump subsequently threatened to regulate or even shut down social media companies.

“It’s outrageous,” Pelosi said of the executive order, “but it’s an outrageous situation. While Twitter is putting up its fact check…they still won’t take off the misrepresentations the president is putting out there” in which Trump repeated a conspiracy theory that TV host Joe Scarborough committed murder.

“Yes, we like Twitter to put up their fact check [of the president] but it seems to be very selective,” Pelosi said.

Twitter and other social media companies have drawn bipartisan criticism in the past for perceived failures in the regulation of false or misleading information.

After Trump threatened social media companies with regulation or closure, several conservatives including Missouri senator Josh Hawley expressed their support for the measure. The executive order will reportedly seek to curtail Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts tech companies from liability for publishing false or misleading information uploaded by third parties.

Democrats have especially criticized Facebook, which announced in late 2019 that it would permit political advertisements with false or misleading information. Joe Biden in January 2020 criticized Facebook for not removing alleged Russian disinformation from the site.

“The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” Biden told the New York Times. “There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook….None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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