October 22, 2020

The Folly of Twitter’s Fact-Check

No American, not even the president, has an inherent right to a social media account. Tech companies are free to ban any user they see fit. They’re free to fact-check anyone they want, to create a framework of acceptable speech and to enforce their policies either consistently or capriciously. They’re free to accuse Donald Trump — and only Trump, if they see fit — of being a liar. They’re free to do all of these things.

Even if they shouldn’t.

Yesterday, after years of pressure from media and Democrats, Twitter labeled two of Trump’s tweets — in which he had claimed that the use of mail-in ballots for large numbers of people would be “substantially fraudulent” and result in a “rigged election” — as “potentially misleading.” It’s a mistake for any platform to drop its neutral stance and take on fact-checking duties, a task that’s going to be impossible to accomplish either objectively or effectively. It’s going to corrode trust in the brand, but it won’t change a single mind.

Once Twitter begins tagging some tweets and not others with “what you need to know,” it will be staking out partisan positions. The Trump tweets that precipitated its first fact-check are a good example of this. It would have been far more reasonable for the social media giant to label Trump’s ugly and slanderous tweets about Joe Scarborough as misleading. Instead, Twitter decided to inaugurate its policy by alleging that Trump had dishonestly claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.”

Even if this contention were entirely baseless, it would be as untrue as saying Russia rigged the election — a claim that politicians such as Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, along with most major media outlets, have been making for years. But while the president’s rhetoric about voting is debatable, it is also well within the normal parameters of contemporary political discourse. It’s not exactly “unsubstantiated” to assert that more mail-in ballots “would lead to voter fraud,” as Twitter holds. There are dozens of instances of potential voter fraud investigated every year. The Heritage Foundation has cataloged 1,285 prosecuted cases.

Which is to say that contending that “voter fraud” is a problem is no more misleading than contending tax cuts will hurt the poor or that repealing net-neutrality rules will destroy the internet. In practice, “voter fraud” is no more a conspiracy theory than is “voter suppression.” Both happen on occasion, yet there is no evidence that either has toppled the outcome of any modern election.

The problem is that only one of these two issues will earn a “more information” tag from Twitter, because only one of these two issues offends the sensibilities of the liberals whose concerns Twitter ultimately cares about.

In another tweet, Trump claimed that everyone in California will be mailed a ballot. This is factually untrue. But so is the pinned tweet of the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, Joe Biden: “I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t drink bleach.” The president never instructed anyone to drink bleach, yet Biden repeats this incessantly, along with numerous other misleading statements about his record and GOP policies.

Which brings us to the problem: Who will Twitter designate as its judge? Its fact-checking page redirects users to debunkings by CNN, The Washington Post, Vox, HuffPost and other outlets that often deceive their audiences with far more sophistication than the president. These outlets like to appeal to the authority of experts, but not experts whose conclusions contradict their own. There is a reason we debate issues rather than appoint “truth magistrates” to hand down verdicts: For the most part, politics is a dispute not over facts but values.

As is often the case, Trump immediately ceded the high ground by threatening to “strongly regulate” or shut down social media platforms. Such threats are nothing new for this president, who has often menaced media with regulations and legal action, although one cannot help but notice a paradox. Trump never follows through on his destructive threats to inhibit speech but does follow through on his promise to cram the courts full of judges who have deference for First Amendment, while those who talk in the loftiest terms about the press tend to pressure tech companies to constrain interactions, to ban accounts and to “fact-check” their partisan foes.

The distress over social media is predicated on the idea that average Americans are too dim to grapple with the messiness of unfettered speech. Many leftists — those who wanted to institute Fairness Doctrines or overturn Citizens United — admit this openly when they suggest that unregulated speech is corroding “democracy.”

Trump is the first president to take advantage of direct, instantaneous access to millions of Americans. Whether this is helpful to his cause is debatable. Certainly, we are blessed that the president’s policies and rhetoric are often disconnected. Whatever the case, though, we have an entire industry that stands ready to challenge the veracity of his statements. We don’t need Twitter to join in the fact-checking game. Silicon Valley doesn’t have the resources, knowledge or people to do it correctly.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and the author of the book “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History With the Gun.” To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CREATORS.COM

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22 Responses

  1. These are actually great ideas in concerning blogging.

  2. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.

  3. Are any of you aware that the patent office is controlled by the British and the deep state. The social network was founded by Leader technologies and after applying for the patent their property was stolen by Serco a British company with deep state times. Serco handles most of the paper work for all government agencies completing about 65% of the actual work. This is how so many mistakes come to light. When a soldier who has suffered from battle fatigue but is denied help then goes on a shooting spree it is because they slip through the mile wide cracks left by the pathetic work of these leftist focused fools. The deep state after stealing the Leader technology program assigned puppets to head up corporate entities like twitter Face Book Google etc. Go dig up the proof at American Intelligence Media.com and ask yourself why does Hillary Clinton hold the keys to the internet. This was a deep state operation to gain as much information as possible about everyone. The more the enemies of freedom know about you the easier you are to control. Anything you place online is an opportunity for the enemy to black mail and thereby control you. It is now the last opportunity to reclaim your freedom or die trying because if the New World Order led by the members of the Rothschild founded and funded Fabian Society a satanic cult created in 1868 get their way child rape will become legal. Women who are raped can be thrown in jail if they complain to authorities without direct witnesses of the crime. This will be the world under satanic leftist rule. Thousands of prisoners have been released from prison and now they are being used to attack and burn down cities across America while people who want to go to work are thrown behind bars to protect society. Can you not see how insane things are. George Soros the puppet master for the Democrat party is paying groups like Antifa and black lives matter to destroy cities from coast to coast while Democrat governors and Mayors sit on their backsides willingly allowing their cities to burn. Rise up fight back. defeat this evil protect the Constitution for without the founding documents America no longer exists and the whole world is lost. God bless us all.

  4. I guess a lot of people haven’t seen the stats in voter fraud. Three states have already found ballots filled out and ready to ship. All in Democratic states. Go figure this

    1. EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION, EVEN THE PRESIDENT. TOO BAD THEY ARE STILL TRYING AFTER 3 AND 1/2 YEARS TO GET RID OF HIM. HOPE WE SEE ANOTHER 4 YEARS FOR HIM. AMERICA NEEDS HIM TO FINISH EXPOSING THE CORRUPT SWAMP. EVEN TOO MANY RINOS ARE JOING THEM DUE TO THEIR CORRUPT DEALINGS. GOD HELP AMERICA. SAVE FROM THEM.

  5. The author stated that the mailing a ballot to all in California. True it didn’t happen that we know of, however, the SDEMS were pushing for the reality of this corrupt act of forcing upon all to sell their vote to the liberal Socialist agenda. Though this author wants to sound fair he still hides many facts that are not attributable to Presdent Trump. The President is merely telling along with facts of where the many times that Tweeter has chosen the SDEMS and libs over conservatives. Enough of the sneaky, stench of libs that are Socialist and ANTI-USA AND ANTI-PRESIDENT TRUMP.

  6. THE PRESIDENT HAS JUST AS MUCH RIGHT TO DEFAME TWITTER AS THEY ARE TRYING TO DO TO HIM. HE IS CORRECT THAT MAIL-IN BALLOTS ARE NOT SECURE. CALIFORNIA GAVE DRIVER LICENSES TO ALL ILLEGALS, THEY ALL CAN VOTE WITH THEM. NICE FOR THE GOVERNOR WHO WANTS EVERYONE TO SUPPORT HIS SANCTUARY STATE WHO GIVES ALL FREE INSURANCE AND WELFARE TO ILLEGALS. I DONOT WANT MY TAX DOLLARS TO HELP HIM. CRAZY NANCY PILOSI WANTS TO GIVE ILLEGALS A 1200.00 STIMULAS CHECK. SHE HELD UP GIVING MONEY TO SMALL BUSINESSES THOUGH. GOD SAVE US FROM THEM.

  7. You said that it is untrue that everyone in California will be mailed a ballot…allow me to correct you on that statement. Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an Executive order that due to the coronavirus the November voting in California will be done by mail, hence everyone in the state will be mailed a ballot.

  8. Exactly where do you get your information, Twitter? Show me where that’s a law? This is a nation of FREE SPEECH (that is a law, by the way). You knew that when you started–before you got messed up with the Democrats and their money. Don’t try to back peddle now. It’s not working. We all know who your benefactors are, and why you censor Pro-Trump or Anti-Democrats posts on your site.

  9. If the demoncraps werent planning on stuffing the ballot box with dead voters why would they be so upset over the no mail in ballots?

  10. I think that President Trump has been a good president and when the voting begins later this year I hope that people will think about him before they decide who to vote for. President Trump I hope will win again this year. The thought of Joe Biden becoming president scares me. I wish that President Trump would have took control of the riots in Mpls because I think he would have had better control over the situation. In my life I have never thought about an election as much as this one. Please people think about the Governor Waltz of Mn . He is not able to handle the situation with the rioters. Mail in ballots would be too easy for people to cheat. I think that we should have photo IDS for voters. Keeping everyone in their homes with nowhere to go is hard for everyone especially the younger people. Please President Trump take care of MN because Waltz is no good. He’ll have us in lockdown for the rest of the year. Please do something.

  11. I live in Oregon. We’ve had mail in ballots for years now. In this election Republicans were getting Democrat ballot‘s to fill out, and in the last election my husband mailed our two ballots at the same day at the same time and a week after the election mine was returned saying it was too late to be counted. I know there is Fraud going on here but I can’t prove anything.

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  13. Interesting blog post. A few things i would like to add is that computer memory should be purchased should your computer still can’t cope with that which you do with it. One can mount two good old ram boards having 1GB each, as an illustration, but not certainly one of 1GB and one having 2GB. One should check the maker’s documentation for the PC to ensure what type of storage is necessary.

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