'Totally asinine': Legal experts pour cold water on Trump's call to 'strongly regulate' social media companies

'Totally asinine': Legal experts pour cold water on Trump's call to 'strongly regulate' social media companies
Image via Shutterstock.

Although Twitter has been one of President Donald Trump’s favorite modes of communication, he is furious with the social media outlet this week for fact-checking two of his tweets: Twitter didn’t remove them — which some of Trump’s critics were hoping it would do — but it did flag them as potentially misleading and provided links to more accurate information. Trump, is response, is threatening to “strongly regulate” the company. But journalists Sonam Sheth and Eliza Relman, in Business Insider, report that according to legal experts, Trump has no legal authority to do that.

Ironically, Trump used Twitter to threaten the company on Wednesday morning, May 27, tweeting, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.” And Trump has promised to take “big action” against Twitter. But some legal experts that Business Insider interviewed stressed that Trump is making empty threats.

Ken White, a criminal defense attorney at the firm Brown White & Osborn, told Business Insider, “The government has no power to close down social media, and social media programs have both statutory and First Amendment rights to moderate and comment as they see fit.” And according to Hannah Bloch-Wehba, who teaches law at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Trump’s threat is “totally asinine.”

Bloch-Wehba told Business Insider, “They completely lack any kind of legal foundation whatsoever, and it’s very clear that what he is really doing is trying to bully Twitter into continuing to allow him to broadcast whatever he wants to, however false it is, with complete impunity.”

Bloch-Wehba also asserted that Trump is “holding private enterprise hostage” as part of his “proxy war” with Democrats.


Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.