Experts say Twitter is well positioned to defend against Trump’s challenge

Experts say Twitter is well positioned to defend against Trump's challenge

Twitter may be taking a public beating from President Trump, but experts tell The Post that the social network is in a solid position to weather the storm.

Despite an executive order Thursday calling for more regulation on social media companies and a Friday tweet from the president that he wants to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act following Twitter’s decision to mask his tweets about In the Minnesota riots, Twitter shares only ended the week down 4.9 percent.

According to analysts, it’s a sign that Wall Street considers Trump’s bark worse than his bite, at least when it comes to his ability to regulate social media.

“The executive order has no legal teeth unless it causes the FCC to move,” CFRA analyst John Freeman told The Post. “And I don’t think the FCC is going to move right now. I think everything will be delayed until the dust clears up after the election.”

Trump’s order directs federal agencies to consider whether they can establish new regulations on tech giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, saying that companies “like Twitter enjoy an unprecedented shield of responsibility based on the theory of they are a neutral platform. ” they are not. “

The order requires new regulations under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a landmark federal law of 1996 that largely exempts online platforms from legal liability for material posted by its users, allowing them be treated more like editors.

Reversing those regulations would expose tech companies to greater civil liability through lawsuits. But convincing the courts to accept the restrictions on big tech companies could face difficulties, experts said.

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“The precedent says these are things that have been allowed in the past,” Freeman said. “Twitter is doing nothing that the FCC and everyone else has not blessed before.”

President Donald Trump
President Donald TrumpAlex Brandon / AP

In fact, legal experts say Twitter is likely to have a solid case to present in court if it were brought before a judge for reporting the president’s tweets.

“If the government were to attempt to somehow penalize Twitter or restrict its restraint, then Twitter would have a very strong first amendment argument that violates its own rights,” Katie Fallow, staff attorney for the Knight First Amendment Institute at The University of Columbia said in an interview.

“I think that for people who really know this law, it is clear that its purpose was to say that a website is not responsible for other people’s posts,” he added. “Just because a website gets involved sparingly doesn’t mean it somehow loses the protection of Section 230.”

And when it comes to the Twitter business, the old adage that all the press is good can be proven.

“All of this could give Twitter more user engagement,” Freeman said. “As long as people are having that conversation on the platform, Twitter advertisers can target people on the left with one ad and people on the right with another.”

For now, The Street is awaiting the Trump administration’s actions, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives says, with the knowledge that further regulation may “throw an important key in the business model.”

“The increased regulation may not be just from a content perspective,” said Ives. “It could be advertising, it could be competition, data.”

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Freeman agreed, adding that if Trump’s wishes are followed by government agencies, it could go far beyond his favorite social network.

“If this has teeth, I think it’s such a big problem that it’s not just Twitter,” Freeman said. “We would need to go back to the Google and Facebook ratings.”

Twitter shares rose 3.4 percent to $ 32.02 on Monday morning. So far this year, shares have fallen 0.1 percent.

Cory Weinberg

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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