Monday 13th of July 2020

did twitter push its own freedom of speech a bit too far?


US President Donald Trump says he is directing US Attorney General William Barr to work with states in an effort to enforce existing laws against so-called deceptive business practices of social media companies. 

Barr highlighted that Trump's executive order does not repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

The attorney general noted that in addition to his future business with states, the Trump administration is drafting a legislative proposal regarding social media companies, according to Reuters.

While slamming social media platforms' alleged editorial bias, the US president told reporters that his executive order will remove the liability shield that currently protects the platforms.

Trump expressed that while he imagines there will be some legal challenges leveled against his executive order, he is confident that his administration will emerge victorious from the hypothetical cases. 

Furthermore, the US president contended that he would delete his Twitter account if it was not for the unfair reporting of the US news media. He also said that he would shut Twitter down if it was legally possible. 

Prior to becoming president, Trump claimed that he would get rid of his personal Twitter account, arguing that his own use of it wasn't presidential. 

Trump's focus on social media platforms comes as a response to Twitter's recent decision to add a fact-check advisory to his tweets on possible voting fraud via mail-in ballots

The US president claimed on Thursday that his executive order is necessary against the tech "monopoly" that has, until now, enjoyed "unchecked power" to censor and restrict certain human interaction. 

“We can't allow that to happen," Trump asserted, speaking of the "unchecked power." He went on to claim that he imagines Democrats will back the matter, as they also wish for the so-called monopoly to be regulated.


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Cartoon at top from Mark Trounce, c. 1990.

not sleepy joe...

The Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Nick Anderson has described Donald Trump as an “adolescent wannabe authoritarian”, after the US president’s re-election campaign failed to pull one of Anderson’s cartoons mocking Trump’s inaccurate suggestion that injecting disinfectant could protect against Covid-19.

Anderson put his cartoon The Trump Cult up for sale on the online retailer Redbubble this month. The illustration shows Trump with supporters in Maga hats, serving them a drink that has been labeled “Kool-Aid”, then “Chloroquine” and finally “Clorox”, a US bleach brand. The cartoon is a reference to the 1978 Jonestown massacre, where more than 900 people died after drinking cyanide-laced punch at the order of cult leader Jim Jones, and to Trump’s widely denounced idea of injecting bleach to protect against coronavirus. Trump has also been taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a protection against Covid-19, despite a study showing it has been linked to increased deaths in patients.


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hydroxychloroquine could make donald go deaf... but this won't matter much considering beethoven...

more twittering opinions...

Twitter seems to be falling further into the trap of de facto becoming a publisher. After ‘fact checking’ President Donald Trump’s tweets, it was pressured to do the same with a Chinese spokesman.

The decision of Twitter to mark some of Donald Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots with notices implying they contained misinformation, may have been welcomed by the many critics of the US president, but some say the move was short-sighted. After all, how does Trump differ from any other public figure whose tweets may need to be ‘corrected’ with a ‘fact check’?

Apparently, in at least one case, Twitter couldn’t come up with a good answer, and instead chose to issue more notices. It dug up some March tweets by Lijian Zhao, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who infamously accused the US military of possibly starting the Covid-19 epidemic by bringing the coronavirus into his country.


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pushing each others buttons...

Trump’s Order on Social Media Could Harm One Person in Particular: Donald Trump

Without certain liability protections, companies like Twitter would have to be more aggressive about policing messages that press the boundaries — like the president’s.

WASHINGTON — President Trump, who built his political career on the power of a flame-throwing Twitter account, has now gone to war with Twitter, angered that it would presume to fact-check his messages. But the punishment he is threatening could force social media companies to crack down even more on customers just like Mr. Trump.

The executive order that Mr. Trump signed on Thursday seeks to strip liability protection in certain cases for companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for the content on their sites, meaning they could face legal jeopardy if they allowed false and defamatory posts. Without a liability shield, they presumably would have to be more aggressive about policing messages that press the boundaries — like the president’s.

That, of course, is not the outcome Mr. Trump wants. What he wants is the freedom to post anything he likes without the companies applying any judgment to his messages, as Twitter did this week when it began appending “get the facts” warnings to some of his false posts on voter fraud. Furious at what he called “censorship” — even though his messages were not in fact deleted — Mr. Trump is wielding the proposed executive order like a club to compel the company to back down.

It may not work even as intended. Plenty of lawyers quickly said on Thursday that he was claiming power to do something he does not have the power to do by essentially revising the interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law passed by Congress in 1996 that laid out the rules of the road for online media. Legal experts predicted such a move would be challenged and most likely struck down by the courts.


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Twitter corrected the notice that it appended to tweets by President Donald Trump on Tuesday after the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the fact check, itself, was factually inaccurate.

After Trump tweeted criticism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to send mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter in the state, Twitter added a “fact check” label that read: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.”

Twitter’s fact-checking link pointed users to articles by CNN and the Washington Post — two outlets notorious for their opposition to the Trump administration.

However, the Wall Street Journal noted:

Twitter’s fact check of Mr. Trump’s tweet appeared to contain its own misleading statement, however, stating that “mail-in ballots are already used in some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska.” That statement appears to conflate automatic all-mail voting with absentee ballots in regards to at least one state.

While all states allow absentee voting via the mail, only a handful of states including Oregon and Utah automatically send registered voters mail-in ballots. Nebraska, in contrast, recently mailed applications to every voter—in response to the pandemic, and the state didn’t automatically send ballots.

The mistake raised questions about Twitter’s ability to serve as an independent service to fact check statements by Mr. Trump or other political figures on its service. Late Tuesday, Twitter updated its language to remove reference to Nebraska and instead stated that “five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting.”

The Journal noted in an update: “Late Tuesday Twitter updated its language in a fact-check of President Trump’s tweet.” The Journal‘s Dustin Volz tweeted: “It was corrected after an elections professional notified the company (and me) about the mistake.

As Breitbart News has reported, California faces at least two lawsuits over mail-in ballots by plaintiffs alleging that Newsom lacks constitutional and legal authority to change the state’s voting system without legislative approval.


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the birdies in cartoons...



birdies 2


This cartoon by Moirs, c. 1990




This image on the side of a pub in Newtown, Sydney, Australia...



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trump reestablishes social networks neutrality... wow...

On 28 May 2020, President Trump signed an executive order to reestablish social networks neutrality on the Internet. [1]

Hereafter, social networks (including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) and other internet forums must choose between: 
- publishing unfiltered the content posted by their users; or 
- filtering, altering, commenting on them.

In the first case, the social media companies shall not be legally liable for the posts of their users; however, in the second case, if they filter, alter or comment on a single post submitted by a user, they will be held responsible for the content of all the users they choose to publish.

In doing so, President Trump restores the United States’ concept of freedom of expression set out in the First Amendment, which guarantees the unrestricted right to free speech regardless of the judgment one may make on this or that idea.

US and UK laws, unlike European laws, do however condemn defamation, but the burden of proof is upon the plaintiff, not the accused.

The decree comes after Twitter posted a warning questioning the authenticity of the information in a message posted by Donald Trump.

This decree should also apply to the NewsGuard notes used by Google to censor news sites contesting US imperialism. [2]


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