Image credit: The White House
Yesterday, Twitter added a label to a couple of tweets by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, indicating that they might contain inaccurate information or unfounded theories. The President responded soon after, accusing the social network of limiting free speech and saying that he wouldn’t “allow it to happen”.
This morning, Trump followed up on the situation in a couple of tweets, stating that social media platforms attempt to silence conservative opinions. However, the attack came with a more serious threat to these platforms, as Trump suggested that they may be heavily regulated – or shut down altogether – in order to stop this from happening.
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. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
Contrary to what the accusations suggest, Twitter has repeatedly defended the presence of leaders such as Donald Trump on the platform, despite some of the tweets breaking the social network’s policies. In 2018, the company explained that removing content from these leaders would reduce the ability for the public to discuss actions or words coming from them.
Last year, though, it was reported that rule-breaking posts from leaders could start being labeled as such, so that discussions could still happen, but users would know that the tweet wouldn’t usually be allowed. The measures being taken now seem to follow up on that report, using the labels to denote potentially false information being spread by influential accounts. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. President will follow through with the threats made in the tweet.