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Trump expected to sign executive order aimed at cracking down on Facebook and Twitter, reports say

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U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement in the briefing room at the White House on May 22, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Thursday cracking down on online platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, according to media reports, days after Twitter began fact checking some of his tweets.

The order would push the Federal Communications Commission to tighten its oversight of online publishers and clarify regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, according to a working draft obtained by Reuters. The law as it stands largely exempts those publications from being held liable for much of the content on their websites.

Reuters cautioned the draft may still change. The Washington Post also reported on the draft order. 

Without congressional action, though, there are limits to what Trump can do with an executive order.

Section 230 has become a lightning rod in the debate over online content. Online publishers have defended the statue as necessary to allow them to scale, while their detractors have argued it gives companies like Twitter a way to sidestep regulations imposed on traditional publishers, despite the crucial role they play in disseminating news. 

There have been pushes by both Democrats and Republicans to push changes to the law. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. introduced legislation last year that would remove the immunity big technology companies receive under Section 230.

The debate over online content has taken on new urgency in the run-up to the 2020 elections, in which both parties have found reasons to angry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this year urged Twitter and Facebook to delete a post of her tearing President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, as it was edited to appear as if she was doing so as Trump saluted a Tuskegee airman in the audience.

Conservatives, meantime, have accused companies like Google and Twitter of censoring conservative speech. Trump slammed Twitter this week when the social media giant applied warning labels to two of his tweets that made misleading claims about mail-in voting.

Twitter and Facebook declined to comment. A representative for Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNBC’s Lauren Feiner contributed to this report 

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