In response to being fact-checked by Twitter over a tweet he wrote about voting by mail, President Donald Trump this morning threatened to regulate social media. Ironically the president made his threat via a tweet which read, "Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen." Trump also told social media sites to "Clean up your act, NOW!!!!"
UPDATE: The New York Post reports that on Thursday, President Trump will sign an executive order that will result in some action against social media companies. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday evening that the order is "pertaining to social media." On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that he would take "Big Action" against social media firms.
Twitter fact-checks the president setting him off
What set off the presidential attack on social media was a pair of tweets that Trump disseminated on Twitter yesterday claiming that mail-in ballots would lead to massive voting fraud. Twitter, wielding its relatively new fact-checking warning, called Trump's comments unsubstantiated and put a link under each of Trump's tweets that said, "Get the facts about mail-in ballots." Tapping the link takes you to a Twitter page that includes the heading "What you need to know." And in that section, Twitter notes that there is no evidence tp back up Trump's claims that mail-in ballots would lead to "a Rigged Election."
Twitter also pointed out that the president "falsely claimed" that California sends mail-in ballots to everyone in the state "no matter who they are or how they got there." The truth is that only registered voters receive a mail-in ballot. And in response to another falsehood tweeted by Trump, Twitter wrote that according to NBC News, "five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting."
The president considered Twitter's fact-checking to be a personal affront and responded by saying that Twitter is interfering in the 2020 Presidential elections. Why the president is making these claims about mail-in ballots can be assumed. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is the possibility that many Americans will be too scared to vote in person come November 3rd. Political analysts believe that there is a negative correlation between the number of voters participating in the election and the odds that Trump gets reelected. So it is to Trump's advantage to keep people at home on Election Day. Recently, he threatened (and then backed off) to withhold federal funds to Michigan and Nevada if those states decided to approve mail-in ballots.
There are many other false accusations hurled by Trump on Twitter including his claim that former Rep. Joe Scarborough (now an MSNBC personality), was involved in the death of a staff member years ago. There is no evidence that Scarborough was involved in this incident.
This isn't the first time that the president has threatened social media. Last year Trump was watching a video of FOX host Tucker Carlson interviewing a former Google engineer named
Kevin Cernekee. The latter said that Google really wants Trump to lose in 2020. Cernekee, it should be noted, had already been fired by Google and some of his co-workers claimed that he used to promote some alt-right theories inside Google. Trump went on Twitter and threatened the company by stating that "We are watching Google very closely!"
Attacking and threatening internet companies is a recurring theme of this presidency. In September 2018, Trump reportedly prepared an Executive Order calling for federal antitrust and law enforcement agencies to investigate Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media firms. All that was required for action to be taken was for the president to affix his signature to the order and he never did sign it. The month before, Trump had accused Google of rigging its search results against him leading White House economic advisor Lawrence Kudlow to say that the administration was looking at regulating Google Search.
Back in 2018, President Trump said, "Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others."
Based on Trump's past performance, he might continue threatening to regulate social media for a few days until things calm down, and then it will be all forgotten.