Trump threatens social media after Twitter fact check

Trump threatens social media after Twitter fact check



White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is defending President Donald Trump’s promotion of a baseless conspiracy theory suggesting MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough murdered a woman who accidentally died in his office two decades ago. (May 26)

AP Domestic

President Donald Trump is threatening to “strongly regulate” or “close down” social media platforms a day after Twitter added a “fact check” label to two of his tweets about mail-in ballots.

After tweeting Tuesday that “Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling FREE SPEECH,” Trump tweeted again Wednesday about social media platforms without specifically naming Twitter, which has been his favorite platform to post unfiltered views to his millions of followers.

Claiming “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” Trump tweeted, “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”

He also repeated his claims Wednesday about mail-in ballots tweeting that expanding mail-in voting “would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”

A fact check label has not been added to the new tweets Wednesday morning.

Twitter adds fact check to Trump tweets: ‘Contain potentially misleading information’

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About two hours after Trump tweeted Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted about joining the Freedom Online Coalition’s call to promote and protect Internet freedom “at all times.”

“The U.S. stands against, and will not tolerate, government-imposed Internet shutdowns and other forms of censorship during or after this pandemic,” Pompeo tweeted Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Robert A. Destro also tweeted about joining with the coalition and calling on governments to ensure that human rights are protected online in response to the #COVID19 pandemic.

The president can’t unilaterally regulate or close the companies, which would require action by Congress or the Federal Communications Commission. But that didn’t stop Trump from issuing a strong warning Wednesday.

Trump and his campaign angrily lashed out Tuesday after Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things.

The warning phrase reads, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” When clicked upon, that opens a Twitter “moments” page that includes news stories and fact checks about Trump’s claims.

Twitter previously stated that they would start using these “labels and warning messages to provide additional explanations or clarifications in situations where the risks of harm associated with a Tweet are less severe but where people may still be confused or misled by the content.”

Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough told USA TODAY Tuesday that the two tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots. This decision is in line with the approach we shared earlier this month.”

It was the first time Twitter labeled any of Trump’s posts as misleading, Rosborough said.

Some Trump allies, who have alleged bias on the part of tech companies, have questioned whether platforms like Twitter and Facebook should continue to enjoy liability protections as “platforms” under federal law – or be treated more like publishers, which could face lawsuits over content.

The protections have been credited with allowing the unfettered growth of the internet for more than two decades, but now some Trump allies are advocating that social media companies face more scrutiny.

“Big tech gets a huge handout from the federal government,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News. “They get this special immunity, this special immunity from suits and from liability that’s worth billions of dollars to them every year. Why are they getting subsidized by federal taxpayers to censor conservatives, to censor people critical of China.”

Contributing: Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY; Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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