Khanna calls for internet ‘fairness doctrine’ in response to controversial Trump tweets

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) called for a social media “fairness doctrine” to allow experts to respond to flagged posts, pointing to the conflict stirred up this week when Twitter flagged some of President Trump’s tweets. 

The social media giant first flagged two of Trump’s Twitter posts on mail-in voting that suggested this method leads to higher rates of voter fraud for being misleading.

Trump pushed back with force Thursday, signing an executive order that targeted the legal liability protections of social media groups that prevents them from being sued for what is posted on their platforms.

Twitter then flagged another Trump tweet on Friday morning, labeling his post as “glorifying violence.” The tweet appeared to threaten military action in response to protests in Minneapolis over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.  

Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, said during a taping of The Hill’s “Coronavirus Report” that there should be a solution that defeats “speech with speech.”

“Let’s say the President is tweeting out conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough,” Khanna said, referring to Trump’s tweets earlier this week about an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory regarding the death of an aide that worked for the former Florida congressman. 

“Well why not allow the widower who doesn’t want the president tweeting about his deceased wife, why not give him the opportunity to send a response and that response Twitter could send to every person who clicks on the President’s tweets?” Khanna suggested.

“Or why not allow someone to respond to the President’s claims about ballot fraud?”

“What I would say is, you defeat speech with speech. But you didn’t give one person a huge megaphone and not allow a fair response,” he added. 

Khanna described Trump’s social media executive order as “political theater,” and said he “wants this fight” despite knowing the executive order is not likely to be upheld by the judicial system. 

The California congressman pointed to the now-abolished fairness doctrine policy of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as being a solution to controversial social media posts. The policy required broadcasters to present both sides of a controversial issue to the public, but the policy was eliminated in 1987 during the administration of former President Ronald Reagan. 

“We need something similar in a social media age,” Khanna said. 

Khanna, a noted tech advocate in the House, also called on Congress to accelerate broadband access efforts to ensure Americans living in rural areas have internet connection, particularly as remote working increases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tags Conspiracy theories Donald Trump Fairness Doctrine George Floyd Internet access Joe Scarborough MSNBC Ro Khanna Rural communities Twitter

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