US President Donald Trump responded via a series of tweets to Twitter’s move of fact-checking him for the very first time.
The post which was fact-checked y the said social media platform is a tweet where Trump claimed that mail-in ballots for the election scheduled this November 3, 2020, would cause voting fraud. According to the link added by Twitter to Trump’s post, his claim is unsubstantiated. Get exclusive reports about this here.
Trump, on the other hand, accused Twitter of stifling free speech. He also warned the social media platform that he, as the president of the United States, will not allow such a thing to happen.
Furthermore, Trump also made the same claim on Facebook. However, that claim is not yet fact-checked by the said social media network.
Donald Trump’s Tweets are A Serious Problem For the Platform
Twitter is now facing a special problem due to the president’s tweets. Clearly, Trump uses the social media platform to feed his 80 million followers with false information in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and even before the pandemic happened. He posted a lot of claims without citing any evidence. He also has a lot of baseless conspiracy theories such as the one where he claimed that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, killed Lori Klausutis.
While the social media platform took a step to prevent people from believing Trump’s misleading mail-in ballot tweet, a lot of critics think that the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey still has not done enough. This is because Twitter did not take down the offending tweets posted by the US president. According to critics, Twitter should kick Trump out of the platform.
The problem lies in the fact that critics are asking Dorsey to solve a problem that Twitter did not even create. However, the platform is being dragged along with Trump’s baseless yet inherently newsworthy claims. In a tweet published by The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer, he said that no one can kick the US president out of any platform. As of this moment, the president is someone who deliberately publishes divisive misinformation on social media platforms. Twitter can do a much better job of flagging all of the president’s misleading tweets. However, it was not able to do so.
Democratic States Do Not Agree With Taking Down Tweets
For some people, a tweet that violates the policy and regulations of Twitter must be taken down regardless of who posted it. The more powerful the person who disseminates misinformation is, the more potential damage and harm it can cause. However, this is not the case in a democratic case. Democracy is described by the idea that voters must be able to access all information about who the candidates truly are as well as the beliefs of these candidates. This rule must remain even if the beliefs of those candidates are baseless. Furthermore, on a social media platform like Twitter, where people rely on getting the information they want, taking down such tweets will be a very big issue.
According to Twitter, world leaders are not entirely above their policies. The platform added that it will remove tweets that will be included in its category of, particularly destructive content. Tweets that the platform often take down are those that have clear and directs threats of violence as well as those tweets that encourage self-harm.
Twitter vs Trump Continues
Still, the company behind Twitter is still reluctant to intervene with Trump’s tweets. However, it rolled out a new series of policies about misinformation, which suggests that the platform is still doing something to counter misinformation.
Tweeter recently announced a new policy where it outlined a complex but clear matrix regarding how it will handle misleading information about the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the platform, misleading tweets will be dealt with depending on the severity of harm that it can cause. In addition, the social media platform has a civic integrity policy that intends to protect elections.
While Twitter remained silent regarding Trump’s baseless tweets, two recent tweets prompted it to intervene. Trump’s tweet where he claimed that mail-in ballots are fraudulent and will cause rigged voting can clearly cause a lot of harm to the integrity of the voting mechanism. Of course, people will not vote anyone if they are misled about what the voting system is. For this reason, Twitter abandoned its silence and used its power to censor harmful information. As a response, it added a fact-checking warning on Trump’s tweet where people can get the real and truthful information about the mail-in ballots. Still, it was as if the move became difficult for Twitter. This is because similar misleading tweets published by the US president remained unlabeled for a week before the platform finally took a step.
But for those who study the art of content moderation on social media platforms, Twitter’s move is a watershed moment. In March, Twitter took down posts published by Brazilian President air Bolsonaro as well as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. According to the platform, the two world leaders’ tweets violated its policies on misleading information about COVID-19. While Twitter’s move seems to be a good thing because they prevent misinformation from spreading, the problem comes in the fact that they refused to take action against Trump’s tweets for a long time.
Content moderation must be done regardless of whoever will be affected as long as misinformation is prevented from spreading. Tech platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have complex algorithms that they can use to block misleading information. They can put a warning mark on false news and misleading posts to prevent it from circulating. However, they cannot easily do that because they might be accused of trying to prevent free speech. This is exactly what happened to Twitter. After labeling Trump’s tweet with a fact-checking mark, the US president surprised everyone with a claim that the platform is trying to stifle the freedom of speech– an accusation with no legal basis. Needless to say, moderation has its own limits.