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Trump vs. Twitter: what both parties defend 1:48
(CNN) - President Donald Trump on Thursday introduced a decree targeting social media companies, days after Twitter called two of his tweets "potentially misleading."
Speaking from the Oval Office before signing the decree, Trump said the move is to "defend freedom of expression from one of the most serious dangers it has faced in US history."
"A small handful of social media monopolies control a large portion of all public and private communications in the United States," he alleged. "They have had uncontrolled power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences."USA: Trump fights Twitter for disinformation 2:03
The decree tests the limits of the White House's authority. In what is a complicated legal gamble, it seeks to curtail the power of large social media platforms by reinterpreting a critical 1996 law that protects websites and tech companies from lawsuits.
This marks a drastic escalation by Trump in his war with tech companies as they grapple with the growing problem of disinformation on social media. The president has regularly accused sites of censoring conservative speech.
Legal experts say the decree is unstable and potentially unconstitutional, because it seeks to bypass Congress and avoid the courts to come to a completely different understanding of the Communications Decency Law.
"A decree alone cannot change the law," said Tom Wheeler, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. "This was done for the purpose of political intimidation."