After Twitter decided to prompt users, for the first time ever, to fact check US President Donald Trump’s tweets warning that his claims about “mail-in ballots were false” and “has been debunked by factcheckers”, White House has said that Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday. This was preceded by Trump threatening to shut down websites that are stifling “conservative voices”.
Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has decided to stick to his guns in this fight stating that –
“Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that’s me. Please leave our employees out of this. We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.”
In a thread, Dorsey went on to say that this decision does not make Twitter an “arbiter of truth” and their intention is “to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves”.
Dorsey also shared Twitter’s Civic Integrity Policy in the thread that states – “You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes”.
For Twitter, civic processes are events or procedures “mandated, organized, and conducted by the governing and/or electoral body of a country, state, region, district, or municipality to address a matter of common concern through public participation”. For example – political elections, censuses and major referenda and ballot initiatives.
Twitter fighting it out is a “dramatic shift” for the social network. Twitter has been Trump’s primary tool to get his “unfiltered” messages out to his followers.
This is Trump’s strongest threat against Big Tech yet.
Big tech companies have been accused of anti-competitive practices and for violating user privacy. Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon face antitrust probes by federal and state authorities and a US congressional panel.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who is a frequent critic of Big Tech companies, has sent a letter to Dorsey asking why the company should continue to receive legal immunity after “choosing to editorialise on President Trump’s tweets”.
We’ll have to see how this plays out. On a separate note, on Wednesday, three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in Washington upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by a conservative group and right-wing YouTube personality against Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple accusing them of conspiring to suppress conservative political views.