US President Donald Trump yesterday threatened social media companies with new regulation or even shuttering after Twitter on Tuesday added fact-checks to two of his tweets.
The president cannot unilaterally regulate or close the companies, which would require action by the US Congress or the US Federal Communications Commission, but that did not stop Trump from angrily issuing a strong warning.
Claiming technology giants “silence conservative voices,” Trump wrote on Twitter: “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
He repeated his unsubstantiated claim — which sparked his latest showdown with Silicon Valley — that expanding mail-in voting “would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”
Trump and his campaign had angrily lashed out on Tuesday after Twitter labeled as “unsubstantiated” two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things.
The move was a first for the social network, which has long resisted calls to censure the US president over truth-defying posts.
Under the two tweets, Twitter posted a link which read “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” and which took users to a notice calling the claims “unsubstantiated,” citing reporting by CNN, the Washington Post and other media outlets.
Trump replied on Twitter later in the day, accusing the platform of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and insisting that “as president, I will not allow this to happen.”
Twitter’s decision on Tuesday came as Trump received a storm of backlash over attempted character assassination of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough by spreading the baseless rumor that he murdered an aide.
The entirely evidence-free story claims that Scarborough killed a woman he was having an affair with in 2001, when he was a Republican representative and she was one of his staffers.
The deceased woman, Lori Klausutis, was found by investigators to have died after hitting her head during a fall in Scarborough’s office, triggered by an abnormal heart rhythm.
Klausutis’ widower, Timothy Klausutis, wrote to Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey pleading with him to delete Trump’s “vicious lie.”
“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife and perverted it for perceived political gain,” he wrote in a letter published by the New York Times.
Additional reporting by AFP
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