Thursday, May 28, 2020


Trump attacks free speech!
President Trump is preparing to sign an executive order Thursday that could roll back the immunity that tech giants have for the content on their sites, according to two people familiar with the matter.
... Or, more precisely: Trump, utterly flummoxed as to how to wield power against enemies that have the means to fight back, orders agencies to do ... um, something.
Trump’s directive chiefly seeks to embolden federal regulators to rethink a portion of law known as Section 230, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a document that could still evolve and has not been officially signed by the president. That law spares tech companies from being held liable for the comments, videos and other content posted by users on their platforms....

The order would also seek to channel complaints about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission, which would be encouraged to probe whether tech companies’ content-moderation policies are in keeping with their pledges of neutrality. It would also require federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising, according to the people familiar with the White House’s thinking.
That's it. That's all he's got. It's how Trump has operated all his life: He's incapable (or unwilling) to grasp any subject in depth, so, in his business years, he would express his primal urges and then tell his lawyers and accountants to go make it happen, somehow. Sometimes it worked, sometimes he went bankrupt.

This is an effective approach for Trump as president when he wants underlings to hurt powerless enemies -- undocumented immigrants at the border, for instance. Smart, evil operatives like Stephen Miller can find ways to give Trump what he wants.

But the social media giants have smart lawyers, and they have the law on their side, starting with the First Amendment. Everyone who works for Trump knows this, so they now have to pretend that they're going to bring Twitter to its knees until Trump forgets his current rage and moves on to some other fit of pique that's equally irrelevant to his job.

Please note that Trump will never use the most obvious tool available to him, one that's constitutionally permissible and that isn't an abuse of his power: He won't quit Twitter.

He's afraid to quit Twitter. Charlie Warzel of The New York Times explains why:
... there’s something special about Twitter’s influence. Though the audience is larger on YouTube and Facebook, deplatformed pro-Trump figures seem most anguished about losing their 280-character missives. Twitter is the platform of choice not because of reach, but because it provides a unique on-ramp to the mainstream media conversation.

It’s where journalists hang out all day. Spats on Twitter are more visible to newsmakers and more likely to attract attention. The savviest pro-Trump figures learned long ago how to influence the conversation by baiting the press with outrageous commentary or by going up to the edge of violating the platform's rules. Without a Twitter account, they lose that power and influence.

... Yes, [Trump's] Facebook posts would likely be shared on Twitter all the same.... But losing access to Twitter would introduce at least some friction to the president’s current strategy of using late-night tweetstorms to provoke journalists.
Warzel is imagining the consequences if Twitter were to ban Trump. But why doesn't Trump cancel Twitter? If he decided to leave, many right-wingers would go with him. He could do serious harm to the site, and it would be perfectly legal.

He won't. He's scared. He's an attention addict and a conflict addict. He needs his fix, and he gets the best drugs from Twitter. Even if you explained Parler or Gab to him and he made one of them famous by moving his diatribes there, it just wouldn't be the same to him.

The powerful man in the world is too needy to quit a social media site. That's pathetic.

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