Trump versus Twitter

Trump versus Twitter, by Rory Cellan-Jones at the BBC.

Seeing President Trump immediately go nuclear and threatening to go so far as to shut the social media platform down, Twitter might have been tempted to go quiet for a bit.

Instead, it chose escalation.

In the early hours of Friday morning, in a tweet about the protests in Minneapolis over the death of a black man, Mr Trump warned: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts“.

Twitter’s moderation team swung into action — after consulting CEO Jack Dorsey — and obscured the tweet with a message saying that rules on glorifying violence had been broken. Users could still see the tweet by clicking through that message, but sharing it was made harder.

A few hours later, as the president woke up, the official White House account simply repeated the offending tweet. We watched with bated breath to see what would happen and, sure enough, Twitter’s moderators slapped the same warning on the tweet.

It is difficult to see either side backing down now.

Twitter now finds itself either as the world’s censor, or just an inconsistent and naked propagandist. It must choose one.

The White House is busy scouring Twitter to find examples of other world leaders who have glorified violence without any comeback. Others are finding all sorts of old Trump tweets that appear to have broken the rules by, for instance, spreading misinformation about treatments for coronavirus.

Jack Dorsey, who had appeared very reluctant to apply anything but the most light-touch regulation [?? -ed], now finds himself faced with the unappealing prospect of cracking down on world leaders far and wide. …

Facebook had started down this road earlier, but backed off:

Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear he has no intention of following Jack Dorsey’s lead when it comes to fact checking politicians. Donald Trump’s Facebook page has simply replicated the posts which fell foul of Twitter — with no sign of fact-checking or finger-wagging.

Ooh, we can see what the BBC wants. Trump uses Twitter to bypass the media to talk directly to voters and to influence the topics under public discussion. The BBC would obviously prefer he didn’t have Twitter access, so the BBC and co. could go back being the only gatekeepers between a Republican president and the public. The media sure kept George Bush semi-gagged and under their thumb.

Like the fighting couple in some dodgy romcom, Trump and Twitter need each other — though one suspects Jack Dorsey might be tempted to throw the President out and change the locks.

Ooh giggle the left, Twitter is a private company so it can do what it likes. So were the bakeries, so were the bakeries. But unlike the bakeries, Twitter is a virtual monopoly due to the networking effect, so anti-trust principles apply.

A reader comments:

This is appalling rubbish from the BBC Propaganda Service. Just awful.

For a start, Twitter has been de-platforming people left, right, and centre if they depart from the PC Left’s narrative. So “… very reluctant to apply anything but the most light-touch regulation” is a flat-out lie.

Twitter has no business “cracking down on” or regulating anybody, let alone world leaders. It is NOT a publisher and should not be exercising editorial privileges which, in the case of people who aren’t PC Left, means censorship.

Will somebody please de-fund the BBC as a matter of great urgency.

UPDATE: Twitter Censors Trump Tweet Denouncing Riots; Took No Action On Tweets Supporting Riots.