US President Donald Trump, left, and Attorney General William Bar are seen in this file picture. — Courtesy photo

Trump signs executive order targeting social media

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday seeking to remove some of the legal protections given to social media platforms.

The move, which comes two days after Twitter placed a fact check label on two of his tweets, grants regulators the power to pursue legal actions against firms such as Facebook and Twitter for the way they police content on their platforms.

President Trump accused social media platforms of having "unchecked power" while signing the order.

“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers," Trump said during a brief signing ceremony in the Oval Office.

"A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States," he alleged.

"They've had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences."

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

Trump also said he and Attorney General William Barr would pursue legislation to further regulate social media companies. That idea would likely face stiff resistance, particularly in the Democratic-led House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., claimed Trump only wants to intimidate social media companies into not correcting falsehoods.

The order "does nothing to address big Internet companies’ complete failure to fight the spread of disinformation," Pelosi said. "Instead, the president is encouraging Facebook and other social media giants to continue to exploit and profit off falsehoods with total impunity." — Agencies