Donald Trump Threatens To Close Down Social Networking Firms

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Twitter applies fact-checking alert to a tweet from US President Donald Trump as part of new policy on misleading information

US President Donald Trump has reacted angrily after Twitter issued a fact-checking warning to one of his tweets for the first time.

The move by Twitter is part of its new policy on misleading information, and comes after it clarified its policies in October last year about potentially misleading tweets from world leaders and pubic figures.

However Twitter has been slow to address some of the more controversial tweets from the US President, who has responded by slamming Twitter’s decision and acussed the micro-blogging platform of “completely stifling free speech.”

Fact checking

Twitter decided to apply the warning, which is a blue exclamation mark underneath the offending tweet about postal voting in the US, ahead of the US presidential election scheduled for 3 November 2020.

Twitter suggests that readers “get the facts about mail-in ballots”.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…

“…living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one,” he added. “That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”

Twitter’s warning directs users to a page on which Mr Trump’s claims about mail-in ballots are described as “unsubstantiated”. It cited media reports on the issue by CNN, the Washington Post and others.

When President Trump realised that Twitter had applied the fact-checking warning to his tweets, he responded angrily.

“….Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” he subsequently tweeted.

He later threatened to close down social networking firms.

“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” he added in a later tweet. “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….”

Love hate

President Trump has a love-hate relationship with Twitter.

The platform is his perfered method of speaking to the public, as it bypasses the mainstream media which he regards as hostile to him and his campaign.

He was angered in October 2019 when Twitter decided to ban all political adverts around the world.

And in April 2019, Trump met with Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey in the White House.

That meeting was potentially awkward for both parties, as President Trump had just criticised the platform, claiming it was discriminating against him and other republicans, after the number of his followers fluctuated.

And a week before that meeting in the White House, Jack Dorsey had said he wanted to move “away from outrage and mob behaviour and towards productive, healthy conversation” on the platform.

The same platform that President Trump repeatedly uses to attack and criticise his opponents.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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