Twitter have "opened pandora's box" in feud with Donald Trump

29 May 2020, 16:21

By Seán Hickey

Twitter may have unintentionally started a war with Donald Trump they cannot win.

Mark Scott is the chief Politico's chief technology correspondent and he joined Shelagh Fogarty to break down the US President's war with the social media giant. As the US faces a weekend of protests amid the death of George Floyd, President Trump took to Twitter to brand people looting amongst the protesters as "thugs", and proceeded to quote a threat used in the US before the civil rights movement.

The quote prompted Twitter to censor Donald Trump's tweet, and Mr Scott saw it as "pretty much unprecedented for any social media company to take this step."

The move by Twitter has led to a "significant escalation with Donald Trump and Twitter" and resulted in the President signing an executive order curtailing the actions of social media companies.

Donald Trump was censored by Twitter for the second time
Donald Trump was censored by Twitter for the second time. Picture: PA

Shelagh pointed out to the technology correspondent that the "same post remains on Facebook without any warning." Mr Scott pointed out that this is because the opposing platforms have taken opposing views on whether the leader of the free world should be censored. "Mark Zuckerberg has taken a diametrically opposite point of view" of Jack Dorsey, the chief of Twitter and has been critical of Twitter's stance this far.

"Why has there been this leniency for the President of the United States" Shelagh wondered, arguing that if she was to tweet such things, she would be removed from the platform.

Mr Scott noted that "there's a sense that they are private companies and they don't want to get involved" adding that the debate has been heavily politicised in the US as the race for the White House begins. "The right side of politics take the belief that the social media companies are against them."

Shelagh put the argument to Mr Scott that the "battle is about to blow up about the right for free speech" as the President is censored by the largest online forum in the world. The tech expert told listeners that this debate "goes all the way back to the Brexit referendum" when social media companies took a back seat in moderating content.

He went on to state that "during coronavirus they've moderated content like never before" and with Twitter's action on the US President Mr Scott said that the social media company has "opened pandora's box and cannot close it."

"On this side of the Atlantic the EU and Westminster have asked what the role is of these companies" he said, suggesting that the US is following the lead of Europe, but in an alternative way.

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