Twitter Dares To Asterisk Dear Leader, Scary Threats Ensue

UPDATE #2: President Trump makes it official. Via CNN:

President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting social media companies on Thursday, days after Twitter called two of his tweets “potentially misleading.”


“This reads like a stream of consciousness tweetstorm that some poor staffer had to turn into the form of an Executive Order,” said Daphne Keller, a former Google attorney who now leads the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

The order nevertheless adds more ammunition to a talking point that resonates with Trump’s online base and will appease some Washington conservatives who are skeptical of the tech industry’s influence over political discourse. And Trump’s escalation of the issue could have a chilling effect on internet companies weighing whether to make rulings on misinformation or other content as Election Day nears.


UPDATE: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold ain’t having it:


Donald Trump.

Politico reports as the fight to the death between President Donald Trump’s Twitterverse and reality escalates:

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order aimed at social media companies Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday evening, a move that comes as the president and his allies have escalated their allegations that companies like Twitter and Facebook stifle GOP voices…

Trump and his supporters have been hammering Twitter since the social network labeled a pair of his tweets with a fact-checking notice for the first time on Tuesday, and the president pledged Wednesday that “big action” will follow.

Twitter acted after Trump had alleged without evidence that mail-in ballots are likely to be “substantially fraudulent,” in tweets that the company said contained misleading information about the electoral process. The move triggered an array of rebukes from Republicans, including Trump.

As we discussed earlier this week, Trump’s latest crusade against mail ballot elections, which have been the law in Colorado since 2013 with trend-setting success in every metric including security, could undermine public confidence in the result if enough states switch to mail ballots as a way to safely conduct elections in the era of COVID-19. Especially with Trump’s impressionable and factually impervious base, this could set the stage for an ugly backlash in response to Trump losing the election, even by a wide enough margin to erase any doubt among reasonable people.

It’s not necessary in Colorado to debate whether Trump’s warnings about mail ballots are accurate, because we already know they’re not. With that established, there should be no reasonable objection to Twitter or any other social media outlet appending a fact check to the President’s (or anyone’s) direct communication through their platform to over 80 million people. There’s no “censorship” in providing supplemental information, and the overriding desire that everyone should share for having accurate information more than justifies a responsible party taking this action.

The low-information fight over mail ballots is just the latest case of an “alternative facts” reality fabricated for expediency by one side in American politics colliding with the peer-reviewed fact-checked world most of us try to live in. If your worldview is predicate on mistrust for government, public institutions, mass media, and every other foundational component of modern society, you’re much more likely to agree with Trump that no one should be able to even rationally analyze “free speech.”

We can only hope that this never comes close to a majority of American voters.

We’ll find out in November.


12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MichaelBowman says:


    • unnamed says:

      She's defending NAMBLA Yiannopoulos.  She is so fucking stupid.  Glad to see her going at it with Trump though.

      These enemies deserve each other and I hope they make each other miserable.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        It's 'dog eat dog' and there are no napkins…

      • MichaelBowman says:

        This is just all-too glorious.  Drumpf is playing these rubes like a fiddle.  So much at stake for Jeffery Beauregard.  He's doing this at the behest of his wife to 'reclaim his honor'; she apparently didn't get the message they'd be up against a psychopant. 

        • kwtree says:

          Jared Kushner is probably capable of long term strategic thinking, as Kaus  speculates, but we all know that $rump is not. $rump’s primary war on Sessions is probably little more than revenge for Sessions’ recusal that allowed the Mueller investigation to take place.

          The swamp is wide, but very shallow.

    • It's true, though. All these people supporting Trump's beliefs get completely knocked off-air and maybe he whines a bit. Twitter adds a couple of fact check links to his original tweets (which you have to click into) and he goes ballistic. And you know the whining over the other guys wasn't in support of the other guys – it was about a personal loss for him.

    • Meiner49er says:

      And here I thought "Definition of Narcissism" was Ann's new tagline! 

  2. Early Worm says:

    I guess we will have to wait for the executive order, but I am really confused. Print media is responsible (through libel laws) for their content. Social media sites are deemed "platforms" that allow others to publish on their sites but have no responsibility for the often false and defamatory content posted by third parties. Trump, by far the single largest purveyor of false and defamatory content (in terms of followers), wants to remove the social media's protections? Isn't he shooting himself in the foot? Or is he just trying to lay the groundwork for government control of the media?

    • Duke Cox says:

      Give that Worm a cigar!! Bingo! That last bit.

      He will soon announce his own network. He will then work to give that network special dispensations. If you fuck with him about it, he will sic Bill the Bulldog on you.

      • JohnInDenver says:

        Trump has already said he's dissatisfied with Fox News … it isn't what it was when Ailes was there. 

        “ The people who are watching @FoxNews, in record numbers (thank you President Trump), are angry. They want an alternative now. So do I! ” Trump tweeted on April 26.

        “You might have extra anti-Trump individuals, by far, than ever,” the tweet stated. “In search of a brand new outlet!”


    • The reality of how social media sites operate is a bit more complex than simple publishing platforms. They're shielded under the CDA as such, but the CDA differentiates between hands-off moderation and more active measures. With these sites doing some amount of automated moderation and "post enhancement" a la fact check links, it can be argued that they're crossing the line.

      Of course, crossing that line doesn't help Trump's case. If they're not media platforms then they're outright media sources, which have greater protection against government speech regulations, just fewer protections against lawsuits over copyright and libel and such.

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