Twitter seems to be falling further into the trap of de facto becoming a publisher. After ‘fact checking’ President Donald Trump’s tweets, it was pressured to do the same with a Chinese spokesman.
The decision of Twitter to mark some of Donald Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots with notices implying they contained misinformation, may have been welcomed by the many critics of the US president, but some say the move was short-sighted. After all, how does Trump differ from any other public figure whose tweets may need to be ‘corrected’ with a ‘fact check’?
Apparently, in at least one case, Twitter couldn’t come up with a good answer, and instead chose to issue more notices. It dug up some March tweets by Lijian Zhao, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who infamously accused the US military of possibly starting the Covid-19 epidemic by bringing the coronavirus into his country.
Twitter has been labeling what it believes to be Covid-19 misinformation on its platform since mid-May, but those particular notices were issued on purpose. At least that’s what the New York Post believes, saying it was done after they confronted Twitter about its apparent double standards in targeting Trump and not the Chinese official.
Quite a few commentators pointed out that Twitter is putting itself in a vulnerable position by getting involved in what is essentially a political quarrel – regardless of whether Trump delivers on his threat to “regulate or shut down” social media in retaliation.
Twitter’s move against Trump’s tweet is probably horrifying to fellow social media giant Facebook, whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, responded to it by reiterating in an interview with Fox News his long-held position that private companies shouldn’t be “the arbiter of truth.”
His counterpart at Twitter, Jack Dorsey, insists that his company is not taking on that role. “Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves,” he tweeted.
This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.” Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.
— jack (@jack) May 28, 2020
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