Donald Trump, Twitter, President Trump discussed on Press Play with Madeleine Brand

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President trump and Twitter are in a war over Twitter the social media platform has label two of his tweets that disparaged vote by mail with fact checks and trump initially responded by complaining this fact checks violate his first amendment rights even though Twitter didn't flag his other tweets promoting at the bank to conspiracy theory involving MSNBC host Joe Scarborough today trump took things a step further he threatened to regulate Twitter and other social media platforms that's something many of the big tech firms have been trying to avoid obviously and joining us to talk about what that means is Kevin race tech columnist for The New York Times hi big family all right so those tweets involve California and governor Gavin Newsom's decision to send mail in ballots to every eligible voter so what so why all of a sudden has Twitter decided to correct this misinformation with the official position now well Twitter like Facebook and some other platforms has really held a firm line on on just a few specific types of of misinformation which involve things like voting and the census and this one ran afoul of those rules it is the exception rather than the rule I mean that these platforms have said that most of the time they are in favor of you know leaving speech undisturbed in case you know there's political debate to be had and so the reaction they must have anticipated the reaction that they would receive from the president so they decided that that was worth it for sure I mean they've known that we've seen this happen to Facebook they've seen it happen to other platforms it's it's happened to Twitter before and the president and his allies really want these platforms to remain open to anything that they want to do that or to to really just give them carte Blanche to spread baseless information conspiracy theories I think the interesting question now is whether Twitter will kind of buckle in reverse stance or whether this is going to be the star of of sort of a more aggressive stance toward toward the trump administration and other I have people who may be spreading boating based misinformation well what conceivably could the trump administration due to strike back legislatively it's not entirely clear I mean there could be you know anti trust investigations the president has a lot of power in the executive branch to make life more difficult for these platforms ultimately though this is a freedom of speech issue this is not I'm not the way that I think people typically interpreted as as Twitter service stepping on the first amendment rights of introbiz allies but of the government actually stepping in to regulate and and preclude private companies from taking certain actions and that actually is a constitutional issue and so I think there's a limit to how far the trump administration can push it without really running into that right so that's really interesting the freedom of speech issue his he's of course saying that that he has freedom of speech was violated but this is a private company they can do whatever they want right when it comes to this exactly and and I mean it's sort of wild to hear claims of of censorship coming from someone who has tens of millions of followers on a platform I think clearly if if Twitter wanted to prevent him from getting his message out and it could have done a lot more to do to do that and then what it's doing now so why aren't they doing the same with these Joe Scarborough tweet Sweeney's basically the president is basically accusing him or raising the specter that he may have murdered someone in his office which is completely false why isn't Twitter taking a stand on that yeah it's it's a great question I think there's a case to be made that if if that were coming from some normal citizen that it would be taken down but Twitter has been very clear that it considers tweets from heads of state from politicians to be part of public discourse tend to not have to follow the same rules as other users meanwhile Facebook has decided it wants no part in fact checking so why are they taking a different path here will Facebook does do fact checking they outsource it to a network of third party fact checkers and they've done you know fact checking on on certain things that politicians have had tweeted but they they are also saying that politicians are exempt from most of their rules none of these platforms wants to be in the business of fact checking every political tweet of being the kind of arbiters of political discourse so they're doing as little as they can get away with and I think voting and this sort of process around voting is an area where they feel like they had they do have a duty they can apply this principle into neutral nonpartisan way and if they have some sort of justification for doing that so what does this look like playing out against mouth as were in a pandemic but also in an election year what does this mean for these social media giants and how their position to give people accurate information when they need it the most well this is going to be a constant battle I mean they are going to be bear the referees right and and players on both teams are working the referees and trying to get their desired outcomes in the case of trump and and conservatives they generally want these platforms to take a hands off approach the lack I think would like these platforms to take a harder line but also you know there are some concerns about censorship on the left as well so I think these platforms you know because they now control a ton of our political discourse and their referees whether they want to be or not mmhm well do you think that the president will do what he has done to other news organizations that he doesn't like just basically call them out as being biased and part of the lame stream media or what have you that Twitter will now be tainted with bad press that he uses against for example your newspaper no absolutely I mean it's already happening this morning you know the president and his allies are calling Twitter you know part of the biased liberal Silicon Valley machine going after certain employees that they think are responsible for these fact checks and Twitter will have to decide whether it cares more about keeping the president and his allies happy or about users receiving accurate and useful information and then both sides of the aisle as you said are interested in raining and these social media giants especially when it comes to election information and what's happening with yeah possible Russian interference all over again that kind of thing do you think that in a strange way that this will unite both sides in a sense to to do something to regulate sooner rather than later I don't think it will unite both sides because I think that each side wants something slightly different from the tech platforms I think you know generally Republicans are concerned about freedom of speech and being able to say whatever they want to say and and get amplified in the ways that they're used to I think a lot of liberals and progressives are concerned with the power that these companies have in the market should these companies be referees should these unaccountable private corporations have control of global discourse and speech the way that they do and if not how do you shrink that influencer or break them up they will be United in anger toward the the big tech platforms although I think their goals are slightly different is there any legislation actively being considered right now I I don't know that there's any realistic legislation and and I think that the white house's announced that it's going to be taking a hard look at anti conservative bias by the big tech platforms but ultimately I mean these are private companies and they are they are allowed by law and under the constitution to make the choices that they are you know that they are making and it's really hard to imagine a scenario in which the courts would uphold and attempt to kind of squash their freedom of expression and the freedom to run their services as they see fit so I think that the problem is less legal and and more political cameras is near times tech columnist his column the chefs examines the intersection of technology business.

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