U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies, one day after Twitter Inc for the first time added a warning to some of his tweets prompting readers to fact check the president's claims.
Trump, without offering any evidence, reiterated his accusations of political bias by such technology platforms.
"Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices," he tweeted. "We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen."
He added: "Clean up your act, NOW!!!!"
Representatives for Twitter and Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment on Trump's tweets. Shares of the companies were down in pre-market trading following his posts.
In the pair of early morning posts, the Republican president again blasted mail-in ballots. Trump posted similar tweets about the ballot topic on Tuesday, which had moved Twitter to add a blue exclamation mark alert underneath those tweets to warn his claims were false and had been debunked by factcheckers.
The dramatic shift by the tech company, which has tightened its policies in recent years amid criticism that its hands-off approach has allowed misinformation to thrive, had prompted Trump to accuse it of interfering in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
Trump did not explain his threat Wednesday, and the call to expand regulation appeared to fly in the face of long-held conservative principles on deregulation.
But some Trump allies, who have alleged bias on the part of tech companies, have questioned whether platforms like Twitter and Facebook should continue to enjoy liability protections as "platforms" under federal law - or be treated more like publishers, which could face lawsuits over content.
The protections have been credited with allowing the unfettered growth of the internet for more than two decades, but now some Trump allies are advocating that social media companies face more scrutiny.
"Big tech gets a huge handout from the federal government," Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News. "They get this special immunity, this special immunity from suits and from liability that's worth billions of dollars to them every year. Why are they getting subsidized by federal taxpayers to censor conservatives, to censor people critical of China."