President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down social media companies after Twitter labeled two of his tweets misleading sets up a fresh challenge for platforms as they struggle to deal with political misinformation during a toxic election campaign.
Twitter on Tuesday targeted tweets in which the president said that mail-in voting would lead to fraud and a “rigged election” in November, the first time the platform has placed a warning label on Trump’s comments.
The president’s angry response and threat to “strongly regulate” or “close down” social media firms highlights the conundrum for Twitter and other platforms, said Steven Livingston, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics at George Washington University.
Livingston said he expects Twitter to narrowly enforce its misinformation policies, dealing only with specific issues such as the electoral process and the coronavirus pandemic.
The attacks by Trump and his supporters put “so much pressure (on Twitter) and they are blanching at the thought of taking the next step” on curbing political misinformation, Livingston said.