President Trump has accused Twitter of “stifling free speech” after it included fact-checking links on a series of misleading tweets.
Trump claimed the social media giant was “interfering in the 2020 presidential election” and warned that he “will not allow it to happen”.
The tweets in question suggested that mail ballots in the forthcoming election will be largely fraudulent and forged, a baseless claim which has drawn widespread criticism.
Trump tweeted: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
A follow-up tweet also claimed that the Governor of California was involved in rigging the election.
….living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
The President’s tweets have sparked controversy in the United States, and the comments section quickly deteriorated into an ideological battlefield.
Following Twitter’s move, users are now offered a link to help them “get the facts about mail-in ballots” at the bottom of the post.
This leads the user to a “moments” post featuring information and a range of news sources offering details on the claims.
Here, users are met with a section titled “what you need to know” which offers a range of statements, including: “Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to a “Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”
This section also notes that only registered voters will receive ballots ahead of the election, and that five states already vote “entirely by mail” or provide some form of absentee voting.
President Trump later hit back at the social media platform, suggesting that the sources Twitter recommends are ‘fake news’ publications.
He said: “@Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election. They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post…”
This recent development marks a significant moment for Twitter’s regulation of misleading content. Until this week, the social media company had been reluctant to apply its rules and guidelines on repeatedly misleading tweets from the US President.
President Trump courted additional controversy last week when he tweeted claims that a former Republican senator, Joe Scarborough, had murdered a staffer nearly 20 years ago.
Lori Kay Klausutis was found dead in Scarborough’s office in July 2001. Earlier this month, Trump took to Twitter to suggest that the former senator – who now hosts a show on MSNBC – was implicated in the aide’s death.
“When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida,” he tweeted.
“Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”
T.J. Klausutis, widower of Lori Klausutis, who died tragically in 2001 and about whom President Trump has been spreading appalling conspiracy theories on @Twitter, writes a letter to @Jack, pleading with him to make it stop.https://t.co/QrwFfOUFPY
— Willie Geist (@WillieGeist) May 26, 2020
Last week, the former aide’s husband Timothy Klausutis contacted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to ask that he take action and delete the misleading tweets.
In a letter circulated on the platform, Klausutis said: “My request is simple: Please delete these tweets.”
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He added: “I am now angry as well as frustrated and grieved. I understand that Twitter’s policies about content are designed to maintain the appearance that your hands are clean – you provide the platform and the rest is up to users.
“However, in certain past cases, Twitter has removed content and accounts that are inconsistent with your terms of service.”
President Trump once again tweeted about Klausutis’ death on Tuesday.