The slow creep towards holding President Trump even the slightest bit accountable online continues... sort of. Yesterday, Facebook announced it would begin removing any posts including a recent video of Donald Trump at a rally inviting his supporters to vote twice in the upcoming presidential election — once by mail and once at the polling station — just to be certain their tally for him would be counted. Which is a felony.
Read the fine print — Of course, because this is Facebook, nothing can ever be as simple or ethically sound as that. The social media giant made sure to note that a post featuring the clip could remain on the website as long as it included at least some amount of context letting people know that, yes, the President once again was encouraging his base to commit felonies. "This video violates our policies prohibiting voter fraud and we will remove it unless it is shared to correct the record," Facebook informed Axios on Thursday. Also, as of yesterday, it apparently hadn’t actually begun removing any of the contextless videos. So there’s that.
The news comes only a day after Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-billion dollar company revealed it intends to suspend all new political campaign advertising in the week leading up to the Presidential election on November 3, a move which is nice and all, but will realistically do next to nothing given the, um, literal years it’s allowed misleading ads to run.
Still far from enough — Facebook joins a handful of other massively influential organizations doing the bare minimum possible to suggest it values facts and fair elections. Twitter recently also flagged Trump’s tweets encouraging a toned-down, but roughly the same, double-voting behavior. Which, we will politely remind you, is still a felony. Twitter also vowed to aggressively remove fake accounts claiming to be Black defectors from the Democratic Party now supporting the Trump ticket.
But, again, it doesn’t take too close an examination to see these kinds of public demonstrations are mainly for show, and honestly will have little influence on preventing the rapid spread and dissemination of Team Trump’s misinformation machine. After all, Twitter had nothing to say about Trump endorsing the far-right, Islamophobic attention hound, Laura Loomer, who secured her House district’s GOP nomination in Florida against the largely favored Democratic incumbent, Lois Frankel.
Meanwhile, this week Facebook also announced it will begin blocking any content that may jeopardize its legal and regulatory standings. Baby steps, right?