Trump Is Not Reacting Well To Twitter’s New Fact-Checking Warning

Photo: Oliver Contreras/SIPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Tuesday marks the first time Twitter has applied a fact-checking disclaimer to any of President Donald Trump’s tweets in an effort to combat misinformation and disputed claims made on the app — and let's just say he is not too thrilled by this development. Twitter’s actions come after long-standing criticism that the company is too hands-off in terms of policing misinformation spread by world leaders, specifically Trump, who has notoriously used the platform as public communication for the duration of his presidency. In response to the company's fact-checking initiative, Trump threatened to “strongly regulate” or shut down social media platforms, echoing past accusations that the social media platform is election meddling
The two Trump tweets that have already been flagged both falsely claimed that mail-in voter ballots lead to widespread voter fraud. “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” began one tweet. The second stated that “this will be a rigged election” should mail-in voting be allowed to continue. Beneath each tweet is a notification which reads “get the facts about mail-in ballots.” The text links to a curated fact-check page created by Twitter that is filled with links and summaries of news articles which prove Trump’s claims to be false.
Trump responded to the new warning in a series of — you guessed it — tweets. In response, the president insisted that Twitter is “stifling free speech” and “is interfering with the 2020 Presidential Election.” More importantly, he added that he will not allow this to happen. “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservative voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
Still, it seems that Twitter’s label didn’t do much to dissuade Trump from perpetuating false claims about mail-in ballots. After accusing social media platforms of interfering in the 2016 election, he continued on his crusade against voting by mail. “We can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our country,” he tweeted. “It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
While a fact-checking label may have been implemented, Twitter insists that Trump’s tweets about mail-in voting did not violate the company’s rules because they don’t explicitly discourage people from voting, reports CNN. Instead, the label is an attempt to offer context. The move is in line with a press release put out by the company last month announcing an update to how it approaches misleading information.
Given the three categories outlined in Twitter’s announcement, Trump’s tweets fall under “moderate” misleading information which necessitates a label. Should the misleading information or disputed claim be of a more severe nature, Twitter may go as far as a warning or even removing the content. It is all based on the information’s “propensity for harm.”
Trump did not elaborate on what actions he would take, but his response is the clearest he has been in expressing that he intends to use the power of the government to target who he believes are his political enemies in the private sector. 
Tensions between the White House and Silicon Valley were already high, but this move escalates things. Trump and other conservative politicians have long complained that Silicon Valley’s largely left-leaning workforce has designed social media to discriminate against conservatives. These accusations have been strongly denied. 
And, this isn’t the first time that Trump has suggested that the U.S. government could take action against any media company he dislikes. Last year, the White House created a website in which formal complaints could be lodged against tech companies perceived to have a political bias. Earlier this month, Trump tweeted that “The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google.” Without getting into specifics, he promised that his administration would “remedy this illegal situation.”
Twitter’s decision to “provide additional context” raises further questions about whether a label will be consistently applied to other Trump tweets deemed to be misleading. The jury is still out on how this will play with Twitter’s “newsworthiness” exception. If misinformation warrants removal, but is also newsworthy, which will win out?

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