Twitter CEO stands by fact-check on Trump’s tweets

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing regarding foreign influence in the use of social media platforms at Capitol Hill September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he upholds the company’s decision to check President Donald Trump’s two tweets, even though it has drawn intense criticism from Trump and his allies. The statement comes as the White House is preparing an executive order that would target social media companies due to suspected biases in their content moderation strategies.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Dorsey addressed the firestorm created by the company’s decision to tag Trump’s tweets with a fact check for the first time. Twitter added a link under two of Trump’s postal ballot tweets on Tuesday that said, “Get the facts on the postal ballots.” When clicked, links direct users to a page that says, in part, “Trump wrongly claimed that the postal ballots would lead to a” rigged election. “However, the fact-checkers say he there is no evidence that the postal ballots are linked to electoral fraud. “

On Wednesday, Dorsey maintained her position that Trump’s tweets “could mislead people into believing that they do not need to register to get a ballot (only registered voters receive ballots vote), “but said Twitter would update the link on the tweets” to make it clearer. “

“That doesn’t make us an” arbiter of the truth, “wrote Dorsey.” Our intention is to link the points of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so that people can judge for themselves. More transparency on our part is essential so that people can clearly see why behind our actions. “

Dorsey’s announcement comes shortly after the White House announced that Trump would sign a decree on social media companies on Thursday. According to a draft order obtained by CNBC, Trump would order the Federal Communications Commission to propose and clarify the regulations of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It would also encourage the Federal Trade Commission to take action against companies engaging in “deceptive” communications. The working draft of the ordinance quotes Twitter by name.

The status referred to in the decree is often criticized by legislators from all political horizons for having protected large technology companies from responsibility for the content of their users. Article 230 was created to allow online platforms to engage in “good Samaritan” moderation of “objectionable” material without being treated like an editor or a speaker. Indeed, according to some Conservatives, this also allows them to get away with suppressing the political opinions they oppose. Social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have vigorously denied such accusations.

Before the White House announced the executive order, Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Said he would introduce legislation “to end these special government gifts”. He has already introduced a bill that would give companies protection from liability if they submit to audits to ensure that their algorithms and practices for removing content are “politically neutral”.

“If @Twitter wants to editorialize and comment on user posts, it should be stripped of its special status under federal law (section 230) and forced to abide by the same rules as all other publishers,” Hawley wrote in a tweet.

Trump denounced Twitter for its initial decision to tag its tweets, saying the company “was interfering in the 2020 presidential election.”

“Twitter completely stifles FREE SPEECH, and I, as president, will not allow this to happen!” Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday.

Twitter has been very cautious overall with its use of fact checks on publications from world leaders. It released a policy last June to address how it would deal with the discourse of world leaders, exempting them from certain standards it holds for other users, but giving it the opportunity to act in the most extreme cases. Twitter believed that most of the speeches by these figures should remain accessible as they are in the public interest, but that action is necessary when these statements could cause real harm.

Twitter declined to tag a string of Trump tweets earlier this month, including an unfounded accusation that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough should be investigated for the death of his former staff member almost 20 years ago when he was a member of Congress. A medical examiner at the time concluded that the 28-year-old woman passed out in her district office in Florida due to an undiagnosed heart disease and hit her head while going down, finding no evidence. foul play. Scarborough was in Washington, D.C., at the time.

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