Donald Trump recently took to Twitter to voice his (inaccurate) take on potential voter fraud through mail-in ballots. Twitter put a new fact-check attachment to those tweets, and in the process drawing the ire of Donald Trump. Trump had a full-fledged meltdown on Twitter, claiming the social media service was trying to stifle free speech.
The irony in that statement comes as Twitter has consistently come under fire for not being restrictive enough with particular types of tweets. Donald Trump himself has tremendously benefitted from Twitter’s loose policing of Tweets, being afforded the ability to essentially say whatever he wanted, regardless of accuracy.
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
Trump since said, “Republicans feel that social media platforms totally silence conservative voices.” This is all despite Twitter seemingly flat-out refusing to delete racist, xenophobic, and otherwise harmful tweets and accounts. Critics and users alike have long chided Twitter’s penchant for dragging their feet when it comes to issues like this. Seemingly taking a completely hands-off approach when it came down to censoring tweets.
The President may feel as if Twitter is stifling free speech, but the evidence shows the exact opposite. Twitter has long allowed bigots and racists to find an audience on their platform, and that is something that unfortunately won’t change overnight. Hitting Trump’s tweets with a fact-check is a step in the right direction. Most would argue that Twitter is still being too passive on the larger issue at hand.
One thing is for certain, regardless of how Trump feels, Twitter has inadvertently been one of his biggest cheerleaders. They haven’t stifled free speech. In fact, they helped him and people like him amplify their message.
That needs to change.