As misinformation and fake accounts start thriving, social media platforms are taking the role of tightening policy.
Twitter, a social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets,” just recently came up with a fact-checking initiative. Twitter gave warnings on misleading posts, appearing on perhaps the biggest possible account on the app: President Donald Trump.
President Trump is known to voice his opinions on social media, especially Twitter. He used Twitter to claim that mail-in voting is “fraudulent.” A couple of hours later, his posts were updated by Twitter that included a clickable, plain-text “get the facts about mail-in ballot,” next to an exclamation-point icon.
When the icon is clicked, it leads users to a page that sites The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and other news outlets that fact-checked Trump’s claims. There is a headline at the top of the page stated “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud,” and was supported by a “what you need to know” part, which showed claims made in the tweets.
“Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” said Trump by responding on Twitter.
On May 28th, Trump signed an executive order to make it easy for federal regulators to claim that social media companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter were stifling free speech when they suspended users or deleted posts.
Twitter also added icons to many tweets that wrongly claimed a photo of a man in a MAGA cap was Derek Chauvin, a police officer who murdered George Floyd, an African-American man who died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by the police. Twitter labeled the posts and informed users that the image is “manipulated media.”
As people around the nation are protesting and rioting for officers to be held accountable for murder, political change, and preaching that black lives matter, Trump posted a message on Twitter on May 29th saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter quickly took action by preventing users from seeing the tweet without reading a notice that the post lauded violence.
After Trump put forward an executive order, Twitter publicly rejected the executive order, calling it “a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law.”
Twitter and the President will have to handle legal challenges now. The executive order points at protections given to technology services of the Communications Decency Act under Section 230. This provides the liability shield to companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook.