What was a minor disagreement between President Trump and online platforms has turned into a full-blown confrontation with twitter. If this hostility continues, it is likely that greater controls on platforms in the US might be in the offing.

The US President has often expressed his displeasure at the perceived de-platformisation of conservative voices online. However, the executive order signed by the President on Friday is essentially an open threat to platforms. Given that this order comes a day after the public spat, which started from twitter citing misinformation and hiding a tweet posted by the President, one can only imagine what the move really signifies.

Greater international censure and debate over the years has led to increased moderation on platforms such as facebook and twitter outside of the US. The US government has been behind the times in this endeavour. From the NetzDG law in Germany that stands to fine platforms for not removing hate speech, to our own attempts to make technology companies more accountable to national governments – greater controls on social media platforms are not wholly unheard of. Hate speech, crimes on the internet and violence or abuse do not deserve to be broadcasted online.

But there is a very fine line between controls as a means to make platforms accountable versus restrictions in order for them to fall in line. The US President’s tweet was hidden because it contained misinformation, another tweet of his was also hidden because it contained a direct reference to heavy-handed policing against African Americans in the 60’s.

With the tragic incident in Minneapolis, the subsequent riots, Trump’s own gaffes and the upcoming November election, the President has a lot on his plate. But all state leaders and governments must remember that the law is not subject to whims, or to be used as a weapon against citizens and companies that do not actively support the regime of the time. There is a need for greater controls on the internet, but this is definitely not one of those cases.