The options available to Trump can range from pushing new laws to pressuring US regulators to sue companies, nothing is guaranteed to achieve what the president is threatening to do.
The most “real” action is that Trump will look for changes to the Communications Decency Act, which protects the technology platform from legal liability for various online content, according to Andrew Schwartzman, senior adviser at the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society.
There has been a constant push, led by the Ministry of Justice and Republicans in Congress, to do that. But changing the law will require building broad consensus in a deadlocked Congress. The Trump administration cannot do it alone. And new laws that determine how technology companies should monitor their platforms can raise questions about the constitutionality of those laws.
“This is just another example of Trump who thinks that the Constitution makes him a king, but he doesn’t,” said David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former senior Federal Trade Commission official.
“But I think [FCC Chairman Ajit] “Pai has a good relationship with the president, and they have partnered in several ways, I think he still maintains his independence,” added a telecommunications industry official, speaking from his experience interacting regularly with the agency.
Schwartzman said one way Trump could try to “harass” social media companies was to pressure the FCC to refuse the companies’ licenses for unrelated experiments involving satellite internet or wireless spectrum. (Google and Facebook both tamper with high-speed internet to consumers from drones, balloons, or even from space). But this type of action will not substantially affect the company’s core business.
Trump can try to appoint allies to the FTC who might be willing to launch more investigations, experts say, but laws governing independent bodies such as the FTC make them more difficult to politicize than cabinet institutions such as the Justice Department. The FTC consists of five commissioners who are going through difficult times, and their decisions will also be reviewed legally.
Barr has alluded to complaints of anti-conservative bias on several occasions. In December, he told a state attorney general’s hearing that the Communications Decency Act “has allowed platforms to free themselves from responsibility for maintaining their platforms, while blocking or deleting third party speeches – including political speeches – selectively, and by impunity. “
Despite limitations, increasing tensions with the White House can still be seen as a threat to the company. Twitter and Facebook saw their shares go down on Wednesday on the day when the overall market was up.
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