Twitter should back down, and Trump should back off
American politics are about to enter a precarious place where the messages put out by politicians, or maybe only one politician, are going to be filtered by nameless and faceless tech employees that work for Twitter.
As we all know, Twitter is the tool used by President Donald Trump to get around the gate-keeping and absurd bias of the mainstream media.
Until this week, he had an unfiltered avenue to speak directly to the American people, and they had an avenue to hear him.
Of course, afterward, anyone and everyone with a TV, newspaper byline or Twitter account could respond and call him a liar, fraud, treasonous monster or whatever they wanted.
But Twitter decided to step in and decide that they would start behaving differently, just for Trump, and editorialize on his content.
While they could have chosen to do so on his claims that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough needed to be looked at as a potential murderer, but they didn’t.
SIDENOTE: There is a tape where he jokes about having an affair and killing her.
Instead, Twitter decided they needed to go after the president on the issue of voter fraud.
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
Twitter editorialized this tweet by adding: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” with links to content accusing the president of getting the facts wrong.
The reality is Democrats are pushing for all vote-by-mail elections.
Some states are automatically mailing ballots to all registered voters, while some are just mailing applications.
But this is far worse than this particular case. It’s the precedent being set.
When Trump gets some of the info wrong, let the media and his political enemies call him out.
Why not all the elected officials who continued to allege Russian collusion for years, and still do to this day on Twitter?
What about media figures who spread dangerous misinformation about the motives of their fellow citizens and use Twitter to delimitate their attacks?
Why not Ayatollah Khomeini, who openly threatens Isreal?
The enemies misinterpret the Islamic Republic’s idea of “eliminating Israel”. Eliminating Israel does not mean eliminating Jewish people. We are not #Antisemitic; Jews live in peace in Iran. Eliminating Israel represents elimination of the imposed Zionist regime. pic.twitter.com/4uKDxcccJI
— Khamenei TV (@Khamenei_tv) May 24, 2020
Why not the official Chinese government Twitter accounts that accuse the United States of spreading the coronavirus?
This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. https://t.co/LPanIo40MR
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 13, 2020
The last two don’t even allow their citizens to use Twitter, but Twitter will bow down to them?
What about the people claiming former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn’t have to recuse himself? He did.
What about those who think U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has a chance at reelection? He doesn’t.
What about the anonymous guy who accuses me of numerous crimes and misdeeds on Twitter daily?
Does that guy now get a note depicting that his comments are untrue or unfounded?
What about essentially every column written by the bitter losers at Alabama Media Group? They had to dump their comment section because their commenters were crushing their souls. Will Twitter’s CEO or site integrity police call out their misinformation?
We could do this all day.
That’s the point. Moderation of this kind and on this scale is impossible.
It can’t be done effectively. That’s the purpose of the rule Trump wants reinterpreted.
More importantly, it should not be done — and it especially should not be done to one individual.
It shouldn’t matter how many times Joe Scarborough or any of CNN’s interchangeable talking heads declare, “This should be taken down,” Twitter should just stay out of moderating political debates because they will inevitably get it wrong and if they don’t editorialize, they now accept it.
What if Trump tweets “LOOK at all the lies Joe Biden has told, from the lies about his wife’s death to the lies about his son’s business dealings!”
If Twitter lets them stand, they are now confirmed? (SIDENOTE: They are confirmed)
Facebook actually got this as close to right as you could expect. They have attempted to discredit things linked to their site with a bit of a mixed bag approach that has angered liberals and conservatives alike.
But Twitter has now awakened the president, and he has the ability to raise questions about their status as a forum and not a publisher.
If Twitter is smart, they will follow the lead of Facebook’s CEO of stop trying to act as the arbiter of truth. Zuckerberg believes Twitter went too far, saying, “I think in general private companies probably shouldn’t be – especially these platform companies – shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
Truthfully, Zuckerberg knows that Twitter is dragging him (and Google) into this, and he wants no part of it, nor should he.
Trump’s potential executive order makes his position clear, “This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”
He wants to strip them of immunity, meaning if they want to editorialize, then they are responsible for anything that they allow.
This will either force Twitter to back down on moderation or die as it currently exists and take down most social media sites with it.
As with any executive order, the next president can change the rules (except for DACA, apparently).
It’s pretty clear that Twitter has over-stepped here, and they only have two options if the president’s order becomes a reality and survives a court challenge: back down on moderation of political speech or be crushed by lawsuits and government oversight.
The correct move by Twitter would be to stop this nonsense right now, acknowledge that they will stop moderating political speech, and move on knowing they messed up.