By
Sarah May
|
November 4, 2022
|
10:45 pm

White House deletes Social Security tweet after critics decry missing context

After being called out by Twitter users for making an extremely spurious claim about Social Security, the White House Wednesday took the unusual step of deleting the social media post containing that assertion, as Fox News reported, in what some view as a sign of a new era in online discourse sparked by Elon Musk's recent takeover of the platform.

The controversy began when the official White House Twitter account declared, "Seniors are getting the biggest increase in their Social Security checks in 10 years through President [Joe] Biden's leadership," and what unfolded from there came as a pleasant surprise to many.

Quick to counter the administration's inference about the reasons for larger entitlement payments were members of Twitter's so-called "Birdwatch" group through which specified, approved users are permitted to contextualize or add notations to other account holders' tweets.

It was not long before a block of text appeared beneath the White House account's post, indicating that the larger Social Security payments being received by seniors are the result not of any particularly noble action on the part of Biden, but rather are "due to the annual cost of living adjustment, which is based on the inflation rate," a metric that has risen to historic levels under the current administration.

The added context, which Twitter noted was information "readers...thought people might want to know" also contained a citation to the measure signed into law back in 1972 mandating automatic Social Security payment adjustments based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

In what could be interpreted as a tacit admission of the original tweet's factually dubious premise, the White House subsequently deleted the communication from its account, a move which triggered swift reactions from across the social media landscape.

Musk, in his role as the new chief of Twitter, emphasized that the contextualization added to the White House tweet appeared because the comments it contained reached a specific approval rating threshold among platform users.

"The community notes feature is awesome," Musk opined, according to Fox News. "Our goal is to make Twitter the most accurate source of information on Earth, without regard to political affiliation."

Seemingly unchastened by the embarrassing turn of events for the administration, White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre worked hard to defend and explain the situation later in the day, as the Washington Examiner noted.

"Usually, when we put out a tweet, we post it with context, and it did not have that context. So, in the past, we've pointed out that for the first time in over a decade, for seniors, Medicare premiums will decrease, even as their Social Security checks increase," Jean Pierre said.

"So those are the types of contexts that would normally be with a tweet like that. It did not have that context. It was an incomplete tweet... . And so that's why you saw the digital team take that action further," she added.

Jean Pierre's clumsy disclaimers aside, observers such as conservative writer Jason Howerton suggested that the entire episode represents a ray of hope for those exasperated by the seemingly endless liberal control over social media. "I have been working in digital for 10+ years now and I've never seen this happen with lefty narratives," he said, also observing that liberals -- mercifully -- could now be faced with "a real adjustment period," in which they must finally contend with "fact-checks...footnotes...[and] consequences."

Written By:
Sarah May

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