Ein Fak­ten­check unter Trumps Tweets ent­fach­te ein Duell zwi­schen Mei­nungs­frei­heit und
geziel­ter Falschinformation.

Twit­ter added a link to two of Pre­si­dent Trump’s tweets, in which he made fal­se claims about mail-in-bal­lots, urging peo­p­le to “get the facts”.

What had happened?

After years of pres­su­re from the public con­cer­ning Trump’s pro­ble­ma­tic and mis­in­for­med tweets, Twit­ter final­ly added infor­ma­ti­on to refu­te the inac­cu­ra­ci­es in his tweets. On May 26, Trump pos­ted two tweets about mail-in-bal­lots, so voting per mail, and fal­se­ly clai­med that they would cau­se the Novem­ber elec­tion to be “rig­ged”.

Usual­ly the com­pa­ny left Trump’s tweets alo­ne, sin­ce they appar­ent­ly didn’t vio­la­te the Twit­ter rules, but the tip­ping point was, when Trump tweeted a fal­se con­spi­ra­cy theo­ry con­cer­ning a young woman who died while working for a Flo­ri­da con­gress­man, Joe Scar­bo­rough, who Trump has a long run­ning feud with, caus­ing Trump to sug­gest Scar­bo­rough was invol­ved. A let­ter from the widower to Jack Dor­sey, Twitter’s chief exe­cu­ti­ve, cal­led the­se “hor­ri­fy­ing lies” and asked Twit­ter to dele­te the tweets.

Twit­ter show­ed sym­pa­thy for all tho­se invol­ved, but didn’t dele­te the tweets. Ins­tead, the com­pa­ny added war­ning labels to some mes­sa­ges pos­ted by the pre­si­dent, one in which he clai­med the mail-in-bal­lots them­sel­ves would be ille­gal­ly prin­ted, say­ing that tho­se asser­ti­ons could lead to voter con­fu­si­on. This led to a respon­se from Trump, who said that the com­pa­ny was bia­sed against him, “inter­fe­ring with the 2020 Pre­si­den­ti­al Elec­tion” and “com­ple­te­ly stif­ling free speech”.

Discussion of Fake News

Sin­ce Twit­ter is Trump’s most fre­quent­ly used method of com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, aver­aging about 29 tweets per day, the com­pa­ny faces a lot of pres­su­re. If the com­pa­ny dele­ted his tweets or alte­red them, it would esca­la­te accu­sa­ti­ons from con­ser­va­ti­ve poli­ti­ci­ans that it cen­sors their poli­ti­cal views or was bia­sed against them. On the other hand, if not­hing is done, world lea­ders would not be kept to the same stan­dard as ever­yo­ne else, giving them more power to harass, defa­me and silence others.

Last year, Twit­ter said it would hide tweets of world lea­ders behind a war­ning label if their mes­sa­ge con­tai­ned harass­ment or vio­lence. It did not app­ly tho­se labels to Trump’s tweets. The com­pa­ny also said that it would ban all poli­ti­cal ads, even though poli­ti­cal tweets often reach a wider audi­ence and have grea­ter power to mis­in­form. It seems that not enough is being done to stop the spread of mis­in­for­ma­ti­on and that espe­ci­al­ly in the case of the Pre­si­dent, a blind eye is being tur­ned to the­se fal­se and threa­tening posts. If no action is taken against this, it can cau­se a wave of con­fu­si­on and uncer­tain­ty about the truth and legi­ti­ma­te the regu­lar use of hateful speech, fatal for the future of the country. 

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