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Donald Trump Is Still Threatening to Defund the Military Because Twitter Is Mean to Him

Donald Trump look s upset and holds up his index finger.

Donald Trump has spent the better part of this whole year trying to gain the ability to sue Twitter over the mean things people say about him. Now he’s threatening to veto the entire defense bill if lawmakers don’t also eliminate a section of the Communications Decency Act that prevents social media platforms from being held liable for users’ content.

Section 230 of that act was written back in the 1990s, in the early days of the internet, so a lot of people agree that it could use some updating. Practically no one, however, thinks it should be eliminated entirely, as that would allow people like Trump to sue platforms for not silencing people tweeting things like, say, the hashtag #DiaperDon, which just happened to be trending earlier this week when Trump started ranting about the issue online.

Earlier this week, Trump tweeted that Section 230 “is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity” and said he planned to veto Congress’ massive annual defense budget if they didn’t use the bill to repeal it. (As of now, the bill doesn’t include anything about 230 because, as Republican Senator and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jim Inhofe told reporters, it “has nothing to do with the military.”)

Trump doubled down in a 1 a.m. tweet to Inhofe last night. I guess now that he’s on his way out, he doesn’t have to pretend to care about the military anymore.

Trump has been trying to repeal Section 230 for months, ramping up efforts (by which I mean tweets) after Twitter began flagging his tweets for violating their rules this summer. What makes his mission particularly strange, though, is that if he were successful in making internet platforms legally responsible for user content, Twitter would almost certainly have to ban him (and others who refuse to stop spreading misinformation, inciting violence, and engaging in other dangerous forms of speech).

Trump and other conservatives love to say Twitter censors free speech, but repealing 230 would force these sites to actually crack down hard on what kinds of speech they can allow.

Another interesting twist is that if Trump were successful, the site hardest hit would undoubtedly be Parler, the conservative platform that prides itself on not censoring anything, including hate speech and conspiracy theories. That site would get hit with so many lawsuits without this legal protection, it’s almost enough to make a person root for Trump. (Almost.)

(image: Erin Schaff – Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.