Donald Trump threatens to shut down social media after Twitter fact-checked him

27 May 2020, 12:26

Donald Trump is not happy
Donald Trump is not happy. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Donald Trump has threatened to "strongly regulate, or close down" social media because Republicans feel it doesn't represent their views.

The US President used social media platform Twitter to share his views, after Twitter fact-checked two of his tweets the day before.

Under the tweets, there is now a link which reads "Get the facts about mail-in ballots" and guides users to a Twitter page with fact checks and news stories about Trump's unsubstantiated claims.

But Trum phas now accused social media sites of trying to prevent him from winning the 2016 US presidential election and told them: "clean up your act".

He claimed: "Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.

"We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country.

"It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW."

Under the First Amendment, Americans' free speech is protected, making it unclear if the President would be able to remove something that by design, encourages free speech and the wider communication of people who use it.

Social media is also something which encompasses the globe, again making it unclear how Trump could shut them down.

Twitter had added labels with fact-checks on Trump's false claim that mail-in ballots were fraudulent.

The Republican Party has launched a legal battle block California Governor Gavin Newsom from sending all voters in his state mail-in ballots for the general election.

Trump used Twitter to claim the ballots would be “forged” and were “substantially fraudulent," but the platform added a link to the posts which said “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.”

Following that link takes users to a page which reads: "Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.

"On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twitter puts fact-check warning on Trump tweets

"These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others.

"Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud."

Trump has been a long-term user of Twitter, preferring to use his personal account to the official account of the United States President.

Twitter has previously been criticised for not taking action against Mr Trump's account over a number of tweets which appeared to breach the platform's rules, including spreading misinformation or aiming abuse at individuals.

The firm has generally exempted political leaders from some of its rules, arguing that publishing controversial tweets from politicians encourages discussion and helps hold leaders accountable.

However, it did update its policies last year, confirming it would add warning labels to tweets from politicians which it found to breach the site's rules.

The social media platform is also under pressure to take action against another set of recent Trump tweets, which repeated a debunked conspiracy theory that Lori Kaye Klausutis, a woman who died in the Florida office of former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, was murdered by him.

Her widower Timothy Klausutis wrote to Twitter boss Jack Dorsey last week asking him to "please delete these tweets" and said Mr Trump's promotion of the conspiracy theory around his wife's death was "bile and misinformation".

Mr Trump has repeatedly tried to implicate Mr Scarborough in the death even though he was in Washington, not Florida, at the time.

Medical officials ruled Mrs Klausutis, who had a heart condition and told friends hours earlier that she was not feeling well, had fainted and hit her head.

Mr Scarborough, now a US TV host, has publicly feuded with the president in the past and as a result has been a regular target of the US president on social media.

Twitter said it was "deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family", but did not say if it would take action against Mr Trump's tweets.