Trump’s administration asks court to dismiss social media lawsuit

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Alexander Nyarko Yeboah – GITFIConline.com

Gitficonline—The administration of the US President has asked for the dismissal of a lawsuit against the president’s executive order (EO) targeting social media companies, calling it a “profound misunderstanding.”

The lawsuit, which was initiated in June by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT),marked the first major legal test of Trump’s directive.

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Gitficonline got the report on Thursday from a Reuters news agency account on the standoff between the US administration and CDT.

President Trump issued the EO in May against social media companies in order to regulate platforms where he had been criticized, just after Twitter fact-checked one of Trump’s tweets about mail-in voting.

According to the report, Donald Trump threatened to scrap or weaken Section 230 of the law that protects internet companies from litigation over content posted by users.

The lawsuit against Trump’s administration argued that Trump’s social media executive order violated the First Amendment rights of social media companies, which would freeze future online speech and reduce the ability of Americans to speak freely online.

Trump’s administration on the other hand argued that the executive order only directed government agencies, and not private companies, to act.

“The EO challenged here imposes no obligations on any private party,” said the motion filed by the Department of Justice in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, which was seen by Reuters.

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The report “directs executive officials to take steps that could lead various agencies to examine … allegations that large social media online platforms have displayed political bias in moderating content,” the motion said.

The lawsuit reflects long tensions between the Trump administration and social media companies that have become key tools in Trump’s political resource.

The CDT’s General Counsel, Avery Gardiner, in an interview with Reuters, called Trump’s executive order “unconstitutional, arguing that, “Instead of actually trying to address the merits of the issues, and to engage in litigation that will show the severe constitutional deformities of the executive order, it is resorting to legal maneuvering.”

White House spokesperson Judd Deere said the Trump administration asked for the dismissal of the case because it was not a valid legal argument, observing that, “The left-wing lobbying organization’s brief seems to suggest it doesn’t understand how administrative action works or possibly that it doesn’t understand the nature of the judicial system.”

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment, Twitter called the EO a “reactionary and politicized approach to landmark law” whilst it declined comment on the CDT lawsuit; Google and Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump’s order seeks to channel complaints about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the US Commerce Department has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking new transparency rules in how social media companies moderate content after Trump’s executive order directed the action.

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The CDT, a Washington DC-based tech group funded mainly by Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter Inc., has negotiated a briefing schedule with the DOJ. CDT will be filing its response by the end of August and the government is likely to respond by September 21, the report said.

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