Social Media giant Twitter’s censorship of free speech has reached unprecedented levels. On Friday, they decided to censor a tweet of US President Donald Trump where he promised to send the military to deal with looters who are running amok on the streets of USA. Trump said, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” And for that reason, Twitter found that the US President had violated rules regarding ‘glorifying violence’.
Responding to the spree of violence that has been unleashed on the streets of the USA, Donald Trump said, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.” He then proceeded to add in a second tweet, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The Minneapolis violence
The violence had erupted in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a black man, in a case of unparalleled police brutality. During the ‘protests’, the windows of unmanned shops were broken, shops were looted, shops were set on fire and so was a building. Donald Trump’s tweets were in response to the vicious cycle of violence that was initiated by the violent mob.
It is the second tweet which Twitter found violating its rules for the platform. It said, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” Although the tweet can still be accessed, people can no longer ‘like’ or comment on it. It is pertinent to mention here that Twitter didn’t find Donald Trump’s tweet threatening North Korea with nuclear weapons violating its rules.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
Twitter’s attempt to ‘fact-check’ the US President
Donald Trump has run in into trouble with the social media giant recently over a tweet he made regarding mail-in voting. He said in a recent tweet of his, “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.” For that, Twitter hit him with a ‘fact-check’. When one clicks on the button for ‘more facts’ related to mail-in ballots, it takes the user to a bunch of tweets from the anti-Trump crowd accusing the US President of making false or ‘unsubstantiated claims’.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended the ‘fact check’ of the tweet made by the US President and claimed, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.” He added, “This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.”” Jack Dorsey’s defence came after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg opined that social media giants should not be the ‘arbiters of truth’, taking a markedly different line than Twitter.
This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.” Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.— jack (@jack) May 28, 2020
Trump’s executive order
The censorship of Donald Trump’s tweet came hours after the US President signed an executive order limiting liability protections for social media companies. “I’m signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people,” he said. “Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform, which they’re not.” He also said that if it were legal for him to shut down Twitter, he would do it.
It appears that the Donald Trump versus Twitter feud has reached new heights with neither side in the mood to deescalate. Censorship of conservative opinions on the website has long been a cause for concern and it appears not even the US President is safe from it. It remains to be seen what the future holds and but one thing is clear, we have not yet seen the end of it.