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Twitter takes on Trump

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, May 30th, 2020 - 77 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, human rights, internet, racism, twitter, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

Like every other thing related to Trump recent events are both fascinating and disturbing.

Recently Twitter added context riders to Donald Trump tweets suggesting that mail in ballots would cause voter fraud.

From Tom McCarthy at the Guardian:

… the company took unprecedented action on Tuesday in response to lies tweeted by Trump about mail-in voting. Twitter added links to the Trump tweets inviting users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots”.

The company confirmed its decision was in keeping with its “civic integrity policy”, which bars users from “manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes”.

Trump falsely claimed that state secretaries of state were mailing ballots to every citizen, and that mail-in voting invited fraud. In fact, the secretaries in question, including Republicans, had only mailed out ballot applications – not the ballots themselves – and mail-in voting, which is common in 34 states and Washington DC, has not been vulnerable to fraud. Trump himself voted by mail in a primary this year in his home state of Florida.

Trump’s basic concern is that voting will be too easy.  The more Americans that vote the less likely it is that he will win.  This is why there has been such drastic suppression of black voters by Republicans for decades.  The right do better when only the wealthy and the privileged vote.

Trump’s response was typical.  The guy is the equivalent of a not very bright eight year old who is prone to throw temper tantrums if he does not get his way.

Again from the Guardian:

Twitter has for the first time taken action against a series of tweets by Donald Trump, labeling them with a warning sign and providing a link to further information.

Since ascending to the US presidency, Trump has used his Twitter account to threaten a world leader with war, amplify racist misinformation by British hate figures and, as recently as Tuesday morning, spread a lie about the 2001 death of a congressional aide in order to smear a cable news pundit. Throughout it all, Twitter has remained steadfast in its refusal to censor the head of state, even going so far as to write a new policy to allow itself to leave up tweets by “world leaders” that violate its rules.

The company’s decision on Tuesday afternoon to affix labels to a series of Trump tweets about California’s election planning is the result of a new policy debuted on 11 May. They were applied – hours after the tweets initially went out – because Trump’s tweets violated Twitter’s “civic integrity policy”, a company spokeswoman confirmed, which bars users from “manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes”, such as by posting misleading information that could dissuade people from participating in an election.

Trump responded on Tuesday evening with a pair of tweets that repeated his false claims about voting and accused Twitter of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election”. “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” he wroteFederal law protects the rights of internet platforms to moderate the third-party speech they publish.

Trump’s tweets include numerous false statements about California’s plan to expand access to voting by mail in November due to the coronavirus outbreak. The tweets now feature a light blue exclamation point icon, with the message “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”.

Then things went out of control after a black American, George Floyd, was arrested by police for forgery and then died while being restrained on the ground by a police officer with a knee on his neck.  He was restrained this way despite complaining that he could not breathe and despite video showing that at no stage did he resist or fail to follow instructions.  The police officer, Derek Chauvin, had his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was lying prone on the ground for nine minutes.  For three of those minutes Floyd was non responsive.  Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder, which involves the intentional infliction of harm but where unintended death ensues.

Riots break out and the local police station and other buildings are torched.  The National Guard was sent in.  A black CNN reporter doing his job is arrested but before Chauvin was …

A nearby white reporter is not.

So what does Trump do?  Describe the rioters as very fine people the way that he described ultra right Charlottesville rioters?

Nope, he essentially calls for them to be shot.

Fox is trying to spin it by suggesting Trump was referring to the possibility that third parties may take the law into their own hands and fire shots.  Whatever.

Twitter hid the tweet on the basis it was glorifying violence.  And as can be expected from an eight year old prone to tantrums Trump has blown up big time.

Because of the earlier tweets he has already tried to remove Twitter’s qualified privilege defence to defamation claims.  He does not seem to realise that if this occurs Twitter will have to review a whole lot more of his tweets.  He claims it is something to do with freedom of speech.  If he succeeds it will have a chilling effect on that right.

And this week America clocked over 100,000 Covid 19 deaths.  One cannot help but thinking Trump’s recent behaviour is at least in part an attempt to divert attention from that horrendous milestone.

America I hate to break this to you but you are officially screwed.

77 comments on “Twitter takes on Trump”

  1. dv 1

    An 8 year old would be put in time out.

  2. Ad 2

    Under a 1996 U.S. law, website operators, unlike traditional publishers, cannot generally be held responsible for content posted by users.

    The sites are also protected from lawsuits if they block posts deemed obscene, violent, "or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected."

    Donald Trump's new executive order argues that this immunity should no longer apply if a social network edits posts, such as by adding a warning or label.

    Twitter has just made a direct challenge to this order by labelling the warning onto the President – who was the authority for the order itself.

    You don't get more of a "fuck you" than that.

    And if President Trump seeks to take hard action against Twitter for this, he will find that he has pushed his arm deep into a beehive to regulate honey. If he does, Twitter's crowds will go completely nuts. Both Republican and Democrat followers will go on a free speech war against him, aided and abetted by Twitter itself. The Republican Party will have to figure who to back on the issue – Twitter and the Constitution or the President.

    Trump with a Republican Senate still has time to revisit that 1996 law.

    We may well get a decent argument about further limits to the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The executive order from yesterday says that "deceptive" blocking, including removing a post for reasons other than those described in the website's terms of service (has anyone ever read one?) should not be protected. After all even Facebook wants more government regulation of social media.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/15/facebook-ceo-zuckerberg-calls-for-more-government-regulation-online-content.html

    I've been looking forward to seeing speech regulated on Twitter, I must confess.

    And the magic of this moment is that Trump and the Republicans get to have it and the Democrats get to defend both the intent of the Constitutional amendment, AND their major backers in Silicon Valley.

    That is a mighty sweet spot if played well.

    But it's now Twitter v President Trump. Nothing can go wrong here.

    • roblogic 2.1

      Web platforms have no obligation to host scammers/grifters/haters or to let

      a demented racist use his seat of power to hijack a horrific tragedy for his own sick and twisted purposes.

      • Incognito 2.1.1

        Isn’t the Web (WWW) the platform?

        • roblogic 2.1.1.1

          I used the word loosely… aka soapbox/ social network/ narcissists' playground

          • Incognito 2.1.1.1.1

            Understood but it helps if we avoid loose descriptions if indeed we are to try improve or change things, don’t you think?

            It sounds like you are specifically thinking of Twitter (and FB?) but hard to tell really.

        • Instauration 2.1.1.2

          "Isn’t the Web (WWW) the platform?"

          Nah – it's Mercury Energy – my contracted supplier of 230VAC that is the core enabler of my postings.

          Neutral platform – or an "editor" of content?

          Trump is simply proposing they choose which, to retain "protections" afforded the former.

          Let them eat Cake too – or be “had” while eating.

          Zuckerberg prefers not to be an arbiter of truth, he just needs to let that directive percolate to his “arbiters”

    • JohnSelway 2.2

      There is no such thing as free speech on twitter, Facebook or sites like the standard. They are all privately owned – not government, so Twitter et al can regulate speech as much as the want. It’s not a 1st Amendment issue

      • Ad 2.2.1

        If you asked Mark Zuckerberg what the First Amendment has to do with Facebook, he'd say: a lot. Throughout 2019 he repeatedly invoked the First Amendment to justify Facebook's decision to exempt posts and paid advertisements by political candidates from scrutiny.

        He's regularly claimed that the company's policies are "inspired by the First Amendment".

        You might recall early last year Aaron Sorkin attacked Zuckerberg personally in a New York Times op ed, so Zuckerberg retored with a quote from Sorkin's movie The American President: "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing centre stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."

        Sure, one could argue that the First Amendment prohibits the government from abridging free speech so has nothing to do with private social media. Probably the First Amendment would not suffer if Zuckerberg reversed course on fact checking political ads, because the power of the state would not be involved. So sure, the First Amendment doesn't bind social media.

        And yet people making that point today wouldn't find it a terribly persuasive defence if the company began banning posts in support of green energy or trans rights. The First Amendment is law, but it isn' ONLY law – it's a set of values and a way of thinking about the role speech plays in democratic society.

        That's where Twitter is making the big distinction here. Facebook has called for several years for the state to regulate it. Twitter is finally fessing up to self-regulation, no matter the political and commercial cost.

        At least some of the anti-censorship ideas animating the First Amendment should determine how the giant platforms operate.

        The Americas had precisely this same debate six decades ago when they determined to regulate television. Jack Dorsey gets that.

        • Instauration 2.2.1.1

          Tell me about – @Tracking_Power

          No David Miller since Valentines Day.

          Is this the “regulated” that you aspire ?

    • Instauration 2.3

      Ad

      "I've been looking forward to seeing speech regulated on Twitter"

      Tell me about "regulated" !

      Was that your speech or mine ?

  3. Good post Micky….some relevance to NZ September election here.

    I hope twitter is going to mark National Party tweets on issues (especially the economy) with "get the facts about xxxx" where xxxx could be investment/growth/unemployment/number of state houses built/tax/level of government debt/state of the waterways/climate change etc

    • Bg 3.1

      Or the Go Hard, Go Early lie?

      [Since you’re making the assertion, the onus is on you to back it up with evidence. I reckon you won’t because you’re a simpleton troll. Your contributions here won’t be missed because they have no substance, no style, and are simply troll tremors. However, you have one day to withdraw and apologise or to provide solid support for your comment or you will be moved to the Blacklist until at least after the Election – Incognito]

      [Ok, you did not take the opportunity to keep your commenting privilege here, which is just as well given that you don’t contribute anything but troll comments. As part of the Pre-Election Clear-Out and Clean-Up you can come back in eight months – Incognito]

  4. Siobhan 4

    Yep..I know Trump is one of the dummies…but

    Could someone please explain why we don't have online voting..I mean they have it in Estonia so…

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/283541/online-voting-proposal-'seriously-flawed'

    • Because people are paranoid that it online voting will get hacked, including people who run the Standard.

      I voted online for the health board election last year and it was so easy and so quick. It has to come.

      I'm convinced that the hacking threat can be avoided by spot analysis of voting patterns and draconian penalties.

    • Gareth 4.2

      Here are a couple of good Youtube explainers:

      Why electronic voting is a bad idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3_0x6oaDmI
      Why electronic voting is still a bad idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkH2r-sNjQs
      and an article from a computer science professor at Stanford: https://engineering.stanford.edu/magazine/article/david-dill-why-online-voting-danger-democracy

      • Bearded Git 4.2.1

        Thanks Gareth…will take a look

        • Bearded Git 4.2.1.1

          I see those posts Gareth and despite them still see potential for online voting.

          Those posts are a few years old and the methods of protecting/encrypting things carried out online, such as voting, seem to be getting better and better. (see roblogic post below)

          Draconian penalties for interference will help.

          I suggest online voting is tested in NZ at local government level where the results are already effectively useless due to the low level of public participation-usually well south of 50%.

          If there are no problems at this level then it should be tried at national level AS AN OPTION. People could choose to vote physically, with online voting an option. Random testing, auditing and analysis of voting patterns would be very likely to identify any jiggery-pokery with online votes. (see roblogic post below)

      • roblogic 4.2.2

        But then there's

        http://votosocial.github.io/

        https://github.com/DemocracyEarth

        Electronic voting is probably inevitable, the potential is so good.

        • Incognito 4.2.2.1

          Online learning also has potential but I’d argue that we’re not quite there yet either.

          There are arguments for and against online/electronic voting, which I believe to be synonymous, and one seems to be that we should do it because we can. I have voted online for years for all sorts of nominations and elections, including global/international ones, but these were limited to members of certain groups/institutions where access and eligibility were already controlled and pre-approved.

          With online voting, it is much harder mitigate against undue influence. When going in a voter booth, the voter has, at least, a brief moment to him or herself to make up or change the mind and it is anonymous. Imagine doing this on a device when a group of ‘peers’ is watching (over) you.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    Okay, how about Trump takes Twitter to court? Is his tweet inciting violence – or just signalling that the National Guard shoots looters as part of their job description?

    I suspect a court would side with Twitter but the wording of the decision would be interesting, eh? Especially if the behemoths took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

  6. peter 7

    It's just Trump dreaming again. In his dreams he has more power than any North Korean or Russian dictator could ever have. He's always blathering about what he's going to do, and force someone to do something he's got no say in.

    It's a wonder he hasn't turned up for the space launch telling them one seat is for him. Then again, seeing the specially made suits he probably realised they wouldn't have a XXXXL size on the rack. That would would mean for the rest of his life he could say they were going to take him, they would have taken him except they didn't have a suitable outfit.

  7. Tricledrown 8

    Twitler

  8. Gareth 9

    This is a can of worms for Twitter.

    1) The director of site integrity (in charge of fact checking these tweets) is a very outspoken democrat who has publicly donated to Democratic campaigns, called the White House staff Nazis, and called Kellyanne Conway Joseph Goebbels.

    2) Twitter depends on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 1996 which says that as long as they act only as a platform, they can't be held liable for content. If they start exercising editorial control, then they are no longer shielded from liability and get sued into oblivion or forced to do something like Facebook did with it's review boards.

    • So you are saying Twitter is ok so long as it knowingly disseminates lies without comment. Come on!

      • Gareth 9.1.1

        No, personally I think Twitter is a shitshow, but if they want to avoid liability, them's the rules.
        If you find a lie on Twitter, do you hold the person who said it accountable or do you hold Twitter accountable? At the moment Twitter is treated like an ISP, not responsible for what is said on the platform, because come on, can you imagine them checking every tweet by even every celebrity account?
        If Twitter is approving tweets and adding commentary and links on tweets that they say are lies, when do they become accountable for leaving something there that in your own opinion is a lie? When Trump said mail in ballots cause fraud and they corrected him, but then he said Joe Scarborough murdered an aide and they DIDN'T correct him, does that mean they think it's true?

        • roblogic 9.1.1.1

          Twitter suspends and bans people all the time for "hateful conduct", but their definition of it is controversial. They also have a problem with subversive bot armies spreading fake news. And of course the ever present scams and spam.

          Twitter should never have allowed Trump's bullshit to fly. They probably hoped (like all of us) that it wouldn't get this bad.

      • mauī 9.1.2

        In a perfect world, I thought twitter was for personal expression and sharing messages with others… It isn't (or perhaps shouldn't be) a left leaning fact checker.

  9. Macro 10

    Nation Astonished by Spectacle of Twitter Management Demonstrating Responsibility

    SAN FRANCISCO (The Borowitz Report)—Reacting to a bizarre development that no one saw coming, Americans this week have been dumbfounded by the unfathomable spectacle of Twitter’s senior management demonstrating responsibility.

    In interviews across the country, people from all walks of life expressed shock and disbelief that Twitter executives appeared to recognize that their social-media platform was a potentially destructive entity that required a modicum of oversight from those supposedly running it.

    “At first, when I saw that they were fact-checking tweets, I thought it was some kind of fluke,” Carol Foyler, a Twitter user from Topeka, said. “But then when they started hiding tweets for glorifying violence, I was, like, O.K., this is getting weird.”

    “It almost seems like Twitter has been taken over by someone like Bill Gates or George Soros,” Harland Dorrinson, a user from Phoenix, said. “I would tweet something about that, but I’m afraid they might fact-check it.”

    Tracy Klugian, a securities analyst who has been on Twitter since its inception, expressed concern that, by exhibiting even modest signs of adult responsibility, the company is “heading down a slippery slope.”

    “Today it’s falsehoods and incitements to violence, but what will it be tomorrow?” he said. “Will Twitter start policing racists, misogynists, and Nazis? Their entire business model is at risk.”

  10. Another one from MLKIII.

    One from a minister.

    These 2 longform essays in Newsroom read like "The Road". Amazing writing by a kiwi in LA, (Anna Rankin)

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/05/26/1197993/los-angeles-is-burning-part-1

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/05/27/1198090/los-angeles-is-burning-part-2

  11. Morrissey 12

    CNN, which routinely defamed Julian Assange, gets a taste of state repression.

    Perhaps after their own mild but fleeting experience of state repression, those CNN hacks will start supporting their colleagues from now on, instead of indulging in vicious attacks on independent journalists….

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/11/opinions/julian-assange-activist-not-journalist-ghitis/index.html

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/15/politics/assange-embassy-exclusive-documents/index.html

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323295/WikiLeaks-boss-Julian-Assange-walks-CNN-interview.html

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1907/S00140/anti-trump-cnn-presstitute-defends-persecution-of-assange.htm

    • Sacha 12.1

      Local man cannot resist hitching hobby-horse to current events. Any flimsy pretext will do, say observers. Same colour jacket, similar food choices, anything you've got.

  12. Dennis Frank 13

    Some context for the twitterwar that folks ought to factor in: "Earlier this week, the president of the United States signed an order that’s meant to cripple many of America’s most powerful internet companies. Or, at the very least, punish them." https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/29/21275052/tech-trump-230-social-media-executive-order-response-twitter-facebook-google-youtube

    "That order, again, is aimed at neutering or abolishing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — one of the key legal pillars of the internet as we know it. Tl;dr: Section 230 says tech companies can’t be held liable for most things their users put on their platforms."

    "Section 230 is crucial to your business if you’re a “platform” company like Twitter, Facebook, or Google’s YouTube, which all depend on user-generated content. It’s also potentially important for Amazon, which effectively runs its own platform that connects buyers and sellers. And it’s just generally important for anyone who uses the internet to say or find whatever they want. So, everyone."

    "Many big tech companies — along with most legal observers — think this executive order won’t survive the legal challenges it will immediately face. Some of them also think Trump knows this and doesn’t really care: He just wants a fight with the tech companies (either because he thinks it’s a fight a portion of his base wants to see or it’s a distraction from a pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans, or both)."

    • roblogic 13.1

      Kim Dotcom relied on these rules too; funny how the USA didn't attack its own internet companies (until now), instead hounding a German (Kim) and an Australian (Assange) around the planet

  13. Tiger Mountain 14

    Der TrumpenFührer…is the US is about to blow?–or at least widely fight back in a way unseen since the 60s, against the creeping authoritarianism.

    Multi millions are newly unwaged, while billionaires are still doing the “just one more small morsel…” act, something has to give.

  14. Corey Humm 15

    The Twitter Trump thing is hilarious, he wants to regulate them but republicans are all about small govt …. I don't get how they can preach deregulation and then demand regulations on a private business cos it hurt their feels. I also worry about how one would take down vids like chch massacre etc if trump gets his way… Perhaps Twitter will block him and he'll have to rant in tiktok

    • Sacha 15.1

      republicans are all about small govt

      Yeah nah. They are about a government that intervenes only in their favour, just like our Nats are.

      • Anne 15.1.1

        What absolutely fascinates me is that Trump is a'raging about his 'freedom' to continue lying through his teeth without interference and the Republicans, in all their fundamentalist Christian glory, are aiding and abetting him with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other.

        Too insular and dumb to comprehend the extraordinary irony I suppose.

        • I Feel Love 15.1.1.1

          Irony is lost on the Maga Maniacs too, I saw a movement to retweet the Prezs tweets because "they can't fact check us all!" –

    • Andre 15.2

      Perhaps Twitter will block him and he'll have to rant in tiktok

      Karma would definitely be showing her warped sense of humour if he were reduced to TikTok for his infantile rageburps. Considering who owns TikTok …

  15. Observer Tokoroa 16

    We have quite a bit to do here

    I am in agreement with Incognito.

    I think we should get on fixing all problems here. The pollution; all the thieving of the Landlords.

    Removal of National from Parliament and replacing it with Democracy.

    Adding Punishment into the Prison systems to reduce recidivism…

    Quality assistance for Maori – Real assistance.

  16. Observer Tokoroa 17

    Hello Peter

    In New Zealand we have Prisons. We also used to have day-long work for the prisoners. Called Punishment for their crimes.

    Prisoners had it tough. They didn't like going back to Prison.

    Recidivism was not at the too high 80%. level.

    It's a bit like a person putting his hand on something really hot – he decides not to do it again.

    Prison should carry punishment. Like it used to.

    It is so weird that you want Prisoners to come and go and think nothing of their Crimes

  17. Rae 18

    Oh my, haven't Judith Collins assertions about her ethnicity worn well through all of this?

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