May 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he would shut down Twitter if there was a way to do so legally

President Trump said in the Oval Office Thursday that he would seek to shut down Twitter if it continued to not be "honorable" in its fact-checking and if there was a legal way to do so.

Reality check: Trump does not have the unilateral power to shut down social media platforms. Legal experts agree that doing so would be a violation of the First Amendment.

The big picture: The comment came as Trump signed an executive order targeting protections for Big Tech companies — a move catalyzed by the president's anger toward Twitter for issuing its first-ever fact-check on one of his tweets, which included misinformation on mail-in voting.

What he's saying: "If Twitter were not honorable, if you're going to have a guy like [Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity] being your judge and jury, I think just shut it down as far as I'm concerned."

  • Trump added that he's unsure how he would shut down Twitter, saying that he would need to speak to a legal team.
  • "If it were able to be legally shut down, I would do it. I think I'd be hurting it very badly if we didn't use it anymore."

Trump also told reporters that he would delete his Twitter account "in a heartbeat" if there was not so much "fake news" — referring to critical coverage by journalists. He has often said that Twitter is his preferred platform for communicating directly with the American public.

Go deeper: Trump has turned Big Tech's speech rules into a political football

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