Donald Trump has a sick mind. He spouts lies and white supremacist propaganda in speeches and online. He actively breaks laws constantly. There has been a conversation for years about whether Twitter should suspend his account, especially as Trump mentally deteriorates, as he lashes out, spreads harmful, violent conspiracies and perpetuates lies and misinformation. This week, Twitter took a mild step at putting Trump in check – they added one small line to his mail-in ballot lies with a link telling people to get the facts. Trump’s reaction has been an absolute hissy fit:
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!!!
Think about that for a moment. Trump is arguing that tech companies are “censoring” his efforts to run lies, unchecked propaganda and violent conspiracies through Twitter. And he’s the president. That’s not all – Trump is going to sign an executive order about this:
The Trump administration is preparing an executive order intended to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for what gets posted on their platforms, two senior administration officials said early Thursday. Such an order, which officials said was still being drafted and was subject to change, would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts, among other examples.
The move is almost certain to face a court challenge and is the latest salvo by President Trump in his repeated threats to crack down on online platforms. Twitter this week attached fact-checking notices to two of the president’s tweets after he made false claims about voter fraud, and Mr. Trump and his supporters have long accused social media companies of silencing conservative voices. White House officials said the president would sign the order later Thursday, but they declined to comment on its content. A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment.
I read the NYT piece a few times to try to understand what Trump *thinks* he’s arguing versus what it would look like in practice. Basically, it seems like if he does the EO and the courts held up the EO, social media sites would have an even bigger responsibility to censor and ban unhinged, violent lunatics like Trump and his minions because they would have increased liability. Maybe I’m wrong? Mark Zuckerberg thinks I’m wrong. Zuckerberg thinks Jack Dorsey at Twitter is wrong too:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized Twitter on Wednesday after the microblogging platform fact-checked a tweet of President Donald Trump’s that claimed mail-in voting increases voter fraud. Twitter tagged Trump’s tweets with the message reading, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” The message linked to a page contradicting Trump’s assertions. Studies have not shown evidence of widespread voter fraud via absentee ballots in the past. Twitter’s action marked the first time the platform has ever marked any of Trump’s tweets as misleading.
“We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this,” Zuckerberg told Dana Perino, host of the Fox News show The Daily Briefing, in an interview clip. The full interview is expected to air on Thursday. “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. In general, private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that,” Zuckerberg added.
Perino said that Zuckerberg told her that Facebook refuses to intervene in censoring public posts unless there’s a threat of imminent harm. She added that Facebook is “hands off” when it comes to political speech.
I mean… Facebook and Twitter both have a Russian-disinformation and Nazi problem. While Jack Dorsey doesn’t do enough to shut it down, I feel like Dorsey is on a much better path, and Dorsey might actually give a sh-t about all the problematic crap that’s on his platform. Zuckerberg does not. Zuckerberg is fine with MAGAs, Russian operatives and Nazis using his platform to incite, engage, misinform, plot and harm.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.