Trump’s Social Media Executive Order Promotes Hate, Not Free Speech

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, President Trump issued an executive order regarding social media companies. Muslim Advocates has long worked with leading technology companies and social media platforms to address the issue of hate content targeting Muslims and other vulnerable communities. Additionally, Muslim Advocates—along with Color of Change, Media Justice and many other partners—successfully urged Facebook to conduct a civil rights audit to determine the civil rights impact of the company’s policies and practices. The following is a statement on President Trump’s social media executive order from Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry:

“Based on what has been reported, President Trump’s stunt executive order is not about free speech or fairness. It is solely about bullying social media companies into allowing him and his allies to say whatever they want on those companies’ platforms, regardless of how hateful and dangerous. It’s telling that this executive order was sparked by Twitter fact-checking the president’s tweets, a long-overdue and commendable act that we hope to see more of in the future. For years, the president has used the false narrative of anti-conservative bias to threaten social media companies into giving him free rein to promote hate and disinformation, and this executive order dangerously puts the full force of the federal government behind that threat.

Unfortunately, social media companies have taken the bait. Facebook in particular has repeatedly capitulated to the president’s demands by having numerous, secret meetings with conservative pundits; agreeing to conduct a pandering anti-conservative bias audit; making disingenuous, right-wing outlets like The Daily Caller official Facebook fact-checkers; and accepting millions from the Trump campaign to run misleading ads with no fact-checking whatsoever. Meanwhile, violent white nationalists and anti-Muslim bigots continue to use social media platforms to organize and spread hateful content that encourages threats and violence against American Muslims and other marginalized communities—as we saw when a gunman used Facebook to stream his attack on two New Zealand mosques last year.

We need perspective here. Hateful content, which demonizes and dehumanizes Muslims and other vulnerable communities and directly threatens our safety, thrives on Twitter and Facebook, and these companies are not doing enough to stop it. The president’s bleating about anti-conservative bias and free speech is just a smokescreen aimed at pressuring these companies into allowing this unacceptable status quo to continue.”

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.