READ: Trump’s Full Executive Order ‘To Defend Free Speech’ And Limit Social Media’s ‘Monopoly’ Over Truth

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

President Trump signed an executive order that will evaluate how social media platforms have acted against the federal government to determine if they have become “problematic vehicles” for allowing the government to communicate with its population.

In the order, Trump calls free speech “the bedrock of American democracy.” He also noted its historical significance to the Founding Fathers, saying they “protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Consitution.”

“The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people,” he added, continuing to note the importance of people being able to speak freely.

Trump then turned his attention to online social media outlets as they, specifically Twitter, have looked to censor content it disagrees with.

In the executive order, Trump said: “In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to handpick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.”

“The growth of online platforms in recent years raises important questions about applying the ideals of the First Amendment to modern communications technology,” he continued. “Today, many Americans follow the news, stay in touch with friends and family, and share their views on current events through social media and other online platforms. As a result, these platforms function in many ways as a 21st century equivalent of the public square.”

He added:

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.

As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy.

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This “immense” power comes with their ability to censor content, effectively controlling what members of the platform see. If they can censor enough content to control the flow of information, then they can dictate how governmental officials are perceived. This could influence elections or have any number of other consequences.

Trump said this “selective censorship” is damaging and “is harming our national discourse.”

He added:

Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms “flagging” content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.

Read the full executive order by clicking here: Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship