Why the Trump administration is doing its best to crush free speech
Posted On July 24, 2021
President Donald Trump’s Justice Department is cracking down on online freedom of speech on social media, an issue that has long been an irritant for many Democrats.
The department announced Wednesday it would crack down on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other online platforms that do not explicitly permit free speech.
The move comes as Trump’s administration seeks to dismantle several federal laws that would have forced internet companies to collect user data.
The order, which targets tech companies that are providing services like email and instant messaging to the public, also includes restrictions on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Trump has made his frustration with the internet’s role in shaping the political discourse a key theme of his campaign, and in some ways his administration has tried to crack down even further.
In his first major speech as president on social networking, in January, Trump vowed to “cut down on social monopolies.”
On Wednesday, the department announced that it will also “take additional actions against those platforms that fail to take responsibility for their users’ online conduct.”
“The internet is vital to the future of our democracy and a critical tool for holding governments accountable,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
“In order to ensure the protection of the American people’s privacy, the Government will be targeting social media platforms with additional targeted enforcement actions and other measures.”
The statement was not immediately available to BuzzFeed News.
The announcement comes as the Trump White House continues to push for more online regulation and surveillance of social media users.
“The government will continue to enforce our existing laws to ensure that Americans’ online privacy is not invaded by government officials,” said deputy press secretary Heather Swift in a Wednesday morning press briefing.
“We’ll continue to hold companies accountable for what their users do online, whether they are engaging in illegal activity, or not.”
The Justice Department also announced it would target websites that do “not explicitly permit the free flow of information on their platform.”
While the Justice Office is not specifically targeting Facebook, Google, or Twitter, it is expected to target sites that are used for hosting or promoting news and information that is protected by the First Amendment.
“Facebook is a great example of the importance of free speech and the importance that the First and Fourth Amendments have in keeping our government accountable for its actions,” said Eric Miller, deputy press director for the ACLU.
“If we don’t have free speech, then it doesn’t matter who owns the news, or what they say, or who their friends are, the government can go in there and take their information and use it against them.
That’s not the American way.”