The tweet that broke the bird’s back
President Trump teased a showdown with Twitter after the social network applied fact-checking labels to his tweets.
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It’s finally happened—the tweet that broke the bird’s back. For the first time ever, Twitter has slapped a fact-checking label on posts by the President of the United States.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump claimed via his favorite microblogging microphone that mail-in ballots for voting “will be…substantially fraudulent.” Underneath the tweets, Twitter placed an exclamation mark and a link to more information: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” the note read, redirecting people to coverage debunking the unsubstantiated claims.
After Twitter took action, Trump repeated his claims in a follow-up post. He added that Twitter “is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.” And he continued this morning, writing, “Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!”
A Twitter spokesperson, Katie Rosborough, said in a statement that the company applied the fact-checking label because the tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes.” She said the posts “have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”
Trump has long come under fire for his itchy Twitter fingers. Just this week, he promoted a conspiracy theory involving MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. A month ago he suggested bleach as a possible cure for the coronavirus. And earlier this year, he threatened his impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, in a tweet, saying the congressman “has not paid the price, yet” for his role in the proceedings.
Facing allegations of bias and the specter of regulatory action, social networks have been reluctant to reproach politicians. But the march of misinformation—and its exacerbation of civil discord—represent greater threats, not only to the Silicon Valley firms, but to society at large. It was only a matter of time before their hands were forced.
We are six months away from the next presidential election. Expect the showdown to continue.