President Trump is now threatening to “strongly regulate” or shut down social media companies, less than a day after Twitter correctly labeled his tweets about mail-in ballot fraud as misinformation.
The President connected the misinformation labels to what he states is a widespread problem on social media: the silencing of conservative voices. But the facts of the matter are clear here, and Twitter is actually doing a good job of ensuring its users can separate fact from fiction.
Where Trump’s war with social media will lead is uncertain; Twitter has yet to respond to his threats. In the meantime, the company would do well to continue labeling the President's tweets for what they are.
Actual misinformation — Trump’s latest tirade stems from his continued push to suppress mail-in ballot expansion programs, which would be incredibly useful for both the current pandemic and voter rights in the future. The labels Twitter slapped on Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots lead to fact-checked information from various sources that speak to the rarity of actual voter fraud in mail-in ballot situations.
Rather than taking Twitter’s labeling for what it is — a warning that misinformation is dangerous — Trump continues to push his chosen narrative. His latest tweets call mail-in voting “a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”
Free speech? — Trump has long mourned what he sees as the death of free speech, but his latest tweets are an entirely new level of hypocritical. Twitter’s entire existence is predicated on pushing the limits of free speech: anyone can create an account and tweet whatever they want with just a few clicks. Trump is now calling for strong regulations or a complete closing of Twitter — which would be itself a massive silencing of free speech.
There’s no logic here, just unchecked anger. Besides, if Twitter were to shut down, where would Trump take his public temper tantrums?
Okay now do the rest — Twitter hasn’t been able to crack down on all of the misinformation Trump has been peddling. This morning he also continued conspiracy-posting about COVID-19, whatever the hell “Obamagate” is, and the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis.
Twitter’s broader efforts to keep users abreast of the difference between truth and fiction are working, but only sometimes. The President’s misinformation problem goes well beyond social media, but Twitter has become an effortless medium by which that misinformation can spread.
We’re thankful Twitter has finally stepped in and labeled at least one of Trump’s false tirades as misinformation. Now the real trick is continuing to apply that label in all the places it’s meant to be, especially when the mistruths are coming from the mouth of the man with the country’s highest platform.