Facebook mints money as users engage with viral misinformation.
The White House press secretary was asked by a reporter during Thursday's briefing whether Trump's focus on alleged widespread fraud involving mail-in balloting is laying the groundwork to cast doubt on the outcome of November's presidential election.
Vice President Mike Pence convened the White House coronavirus task force on Thursday for the first time in a week.
The text of the order was not immediately released.
If Facebook and Twitter executives were hoping Democrats would work as a buffer to the President's criticism, those hopes were dashed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who voiced her own concerns about social media's role in the upcoming election.
Senator Ron Wyden, the highest-ranking Democrat on the finance committee, said he had always been warning the Trump administration might make such a move "in order to chill speech and bully companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter into giving him favorable treatment".
Trump's order would remove a crucial liability shield for social media platforms under the Communications Decency Act if they censure or edit content. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects such platforms from liability because they are considered forums for sharing ideas, rather than traditional publishers responsible for content.
"But it's been stretched and I don't know of anyone in Capitol Hill who doesn't agree that it's been stretched beyond its original intention", he said. Today, Trump proved me right. In an apparent concession, Twitter fact-checked two tweets posted in March by China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian, in which he peddled the baseless conspiracy theory that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was started by the US military.
Mr Trump, who personally relies heavily on Twitter to verbally flog his foes, has long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives by fact-checking them or removing their posts.
A day after Twitter's fact-check flagging of two Trump posts drew the President's ire, he opened the day tweeting - "This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!"
Twitter then lazily added the exact same screenshot of the Reuters article, which includes a number of links to articles dismissing the possibility the virus had originated from anywhere other than the wild.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey arrives at the Elysee Palace to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, June 7, 2019.
"Social media companies that engage in censorship or political conduct can not keep their immunity", Trump said in signing the order, flanked by Attorney General William Barr.
"We're fed up with it", Mr. Trump said of actions by social-media companies that he said express a "viewpoint".
For years, Twitter and Facebook have enjoyed a healthy rivalry: They've competed for acquisitions, talent and advertising dollars, and sometimes gone so far as to copy each others' features in the never-ending pursuit to grow their audiences.
"We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters", Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
Though the timing might be coincidental, Tuesday's move by Twitter came on the heels of a series of tweets from Trump promoting a baseless conspiracy theory that MSNBC host and political rival Joe Scarborough was responsible for the death of a Congressional intern nearly two decades prior.
The president has complained about Twitter's efforts to combat manipulative and abusive content by deleting fake profiles - leading to a decline of hundreds of thousands of users in his follower count. "There are two models here", she said.
Still, the debate has exposed a rift among Silicon Valley tech giants, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticising Twitter's decision in an interview with Fox News. "I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online", Zuckerberg said.
"But in general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform, because they're anxious about censorship doesn't exactly strike me as the right reflex there", he said in the interview that aired on Thursday. "More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions".