Anyone who has access to Twitter is definitely familiar to the thousands of tweets from U.S President Donald Trump that have been labelled as controversial for years now but no particular action taken. Well, it now seems that Twitter is not having it any more and the situation is starting to turn ugly.
This began a few days ago when Jack Dorsey’s platform brought in a new fact-check feature that would be flagging any tweets that contain information proven as false or harmful. Well, among the millions of tweets that fell victim to this was Donald Trump who tweeted that U.S’s mail-in ballot in this year’s elections was fraudulent. As expected, the tagging did not sit in well with the president as he immediately went ahead to threaten all social media sites for violating people’s right to air out opinions.
And as promised, he did sign an executive order aimed at cracking down on the “unchecked power” that Google, Facebook and Twitter supposedly have. While signing the order on Thursday the 28th, Trump noted that these new fact-checking features were “a shield” that he would not let them have any more. This will then take away the immunity of tech companies that prevents them from being held liable of content posted by users on the platform.
As you may know, the new fact-checking feature was integrated into the sites mainly in a bid to curb the fast spread of misinformation about COVID-19. But in Trump’s eyes, this has been a fight against him personally which he has audibly aired as discriminatory and wrong. But are they?
Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
This executive decision has obviously been condemned by Jack Dorsey saying,” We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make. This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth’.” This was also a clap back to Mark Zuckerberg who seemed to agree with Trump’s new order, saying that tech companies “should not be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”
Surely, Twitter is not backing down at all as a tweet by Donald Trump about ongoing protests in Minneapolis was not only flagged but also restricted from his timeline for “glorifying violence”. Twitter has not chosen to remove the tweet from its platform entirely because it believes it to be in the public interest. This means that users can still click to view the tweet if they choose to do so. However, you cannot share or like the tweet at all.
It is no news that racial tensions in the United States are at an all-time high following the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police officers. Protests have been going on all through this week but the situation turned for the worst yesterday as citizens torched three police stations. The tweet by Donald Trump in response to the matter has of course been criticised as violence against people crying out against the various cases of racial injustice that have been reported for years.
Twitter has made it clear that Trump’s line “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” is the one to be taken issue with. The site referred to that quote’s historical connection to violence as a reason for today’s action.
This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today. https://t.co/sl4wupRfNH
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) May 29, 2020
According to Trump though, none of this has been done against other leaders and countries which is why he sees it as unfair. It is, however, sad that he would go ahead to make a system-wide feature personal when it quite clear that his tweets and quotes are airing racist views that would cause even more mayhem than there is already.
This growing feud could just be seen as a result of the ongoing tension but it will be interesting to see how much Trump retaliates against these actions that he describes as an attack against him and his Republican party. At the moment, he still continues to ironically post tweets airing out anger against Twitter and we’ll see whether those are flagged as well.