In a not-so-surprising move, Twitter suppresses President Trump’s tweets yet again. The social app accused him of sharing content that is “disputed” and “might be misleading.” But what did the President say? The president went on Twitter to show his displeasure on the conduct of elections in some areas. At 1:49 pm, he tweeted: “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed.”
Soon as the tweet got out, Twitter went after the President. They placed a warning label on the president’s tweet. Twitter said his content is “disputed” and “might be misleading.”
Then, at 5:39, Trump sent another tweet. Twitter got on it immediately with the same accusation. What the President tweeted was: “We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead. Additionally, we hereby claim the State of Michigan if, in fact,…..there was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported!”
For at least five times on Election day, Twitter placed warning labels on the President’s tweets. But what did the President do except voice his unvarnished opinion? The question remains: does social media have the right to restrict free speech? If the President’s contents are a reflection of what he believed in, is it subject to censorship?
Democrats Egg On Twitter
Twitter, Facebook have censored Trump 65 times, Biden zero, study says https://t.co/qtqlvJ4b8Y
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 19, 2020
Making matters worse, Democrats rode on Twitter’s actions. They renewed calls to suspend Trump’s account. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), called for Twitter to step in against Trump. He accused Trump of “posting lies and misinformation at a breathtaking clip.” The chair of the House antitrust subcommittee added, “It is a threat to our democracy and (Trump's account) should be suspended until all the votes are counted.”
In its defense, the social media company said that they are following policy. They will label and restrict tweets that questioned the integrity of the election. A Twitter spokesperson said, “As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly. This is in line with our Civic Integrity Policy and our recent guidance on labeling election results.”
Latest in a Series of Clashes
The elections are but the latest in a series of clashes between Trump and Twitter. In May, Twitter began moderating Trump’s tweets. They claimed he violated the company’s “civic integrity policy.”
Since then, Twitter began taking a more active role in monitoring the President’s tweets. The social platform would often slap a label on his tweets. often, the charges say that these violate rules about civic and election integrity. But, they allow the tweet to remain visible. The company “determined it may be in the public’s interest in the Tweet to remain accessible.” Users can still read, retweet, comment, or like it.
Preventing Online Censorship
The Executive Order on Social Media issued yesterday says "Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy." Find out what experts including @shannimcg @Curt_Levey @oliviersylvain @ellgood @jgeltzer @InnoDefense have to say about the EO & its impact.https://t.co/VkgHzD5sWB
— Protego Press (@ProtegoPress) May 29, 2020
Trump fired back by saying the social media app policies conservative ideas. By May 28, the President signed an executive order “on Preventing Online Censorship.” This order opens companies to government regulations. This also exposes these companies to potential lawsuits over their site’s contents.
The President reiterated that “Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy. Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution. The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as free people.”
Free and Open Debate
The executive order noted that “Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, the power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see.”
“As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy.”
Free Pass To End
Last October 30, Senate Republicans reiterated the political bias of tech companies. Sen. Roger Wicker, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said that “The time has come for that free pass to end.” The committee warned these companies of upcoming challenges to decades-old legal protections. Without these, companies become liable for what users post on their platforms. Hopefully, that reduces incidences where Twitter suppresses Trump’s tweets.
Watch this Fox Business reports that Twitter, Facebook flag Trump's election night post:
Continuing an age-old debate, does Twitter have the right to censor free speech, especially someone as high as the President? Is it okay that Twitter suppresses Trump’s tweets? Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts in the comment section below.
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