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Trump Threatens to Shut Down Social Media After Twitter Fact-Checks Him

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Trump Threatens to Shut Down Social Media After Twitter Fact-Checks Him

2020-05-27 16:08:43

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Public domain)

 

What would Donald Trump do if he no longer had Twitter to spread his campaign message and vitriol? In what is certainly an empty threat, he vowed to shut down social media after Twitter, for the first time, hit his posts with a fact-check label.

 

In a pair of tweets on Tuesday, the president wrote, "There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. He added that mailboxes would be robbed and ballots would be forged, illegally printed, and fraudulently signed.  

Additionally, he said the California governor is sending ballots to everyone in the state, and it "will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, now, and for whom, to vote," before labeling it a "rigged election."

 

For the first time, Twitter hit Trump with a fact-check label. It added in blue type "Get the facts about mail-in ballots," and links to news articles from CNN, The Washington Post, and the Hill about Trump's unsubstantiated claims about mail-in ballots. 

Katie Rosborough, a Twitter spokeswoman, said the president's tweets "contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots."

 

It's not known why the social network chose now to fact-check Trump. His tweets on mail-in voting were certainly not his first that needed to be fact-checked.  

However, Twitter was pressured by Joe Scarborough and the widower of one of the MSNBC host's former staffers to take down Trump's tweets about the staffer's death.

 

When Scarborough had been a congressman in 2001, the woman died in the office. Theories that there had been an affair or that the congressman had anything to do with the death were debunked long ago, but Trump is digging it all up again, putting the family through needless pain. Scarborough even reached out to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.  

However, the tweets remain on Trump's account. A person familiar with the discussions said Twitter is debating whether to take action on them.

 

Facebook launched a fact-checking system long ago and has third-party fact-checkers investigating content. This was ramped up in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  

Trump's post on the mail-in ballots, though, remains on Facebook. The social network said it doesn't plan to label or remove it. "We believe that people should be able to have a robust debate about the electoral process, which is why we have crafted our policies to focus on misrepresentations that would interfere with the vote," said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson.

 

Trump was incensed that he was fact-checked. "Republicans feel that social media platforms totally silence conservatives' voices," he tweeted. "We will strongly regulate or close them down before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can't let a more sophisticated version of that ... happen again." 

Later he tweeted, "Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!"

 

There doesn't seem to be any way Trump would be able to carry out his empty threats, so social media accounts are most likely safe. The truth is that Twitter has been getting stricter with what it allows, and this has affected both conservatives and liberals. 

Silicon Valley leaders, for the most part, believe social media platforms shouldn't intervene in content, worried that they'll lose legal status that protects them from being held responsible for illegal content that is posted.

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