The skirmish between President Donald Trump and social media platform Twitter escalated significantly Friday when one of Trump’s tweets was flagged for advocating violence against protesters in Minneapolis. Trump replied to the move by Twitter by posting this angry retort:
Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party. They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States. Section 230 should be revoked by Congress. Until then, it will be regulated!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
But in this back and forth between the social media giant and the most powerful political figure in the country, Twitter has many more tools it could implement if Trump continues to try and spread disinformation or threats of bloodshed via the internet.
AFP notes that while Twitter has been judicious in its actions so far, it could ratchet up controls of the president’s postings and make sure they’re seen by a much smaller group of people, greatly reducing the reach of Trump’s tweets:
“One option would be to ‘downrank’ or limit the visibility of a tweet, or to remove it.
“But Twitter’s policies also include a ‘public interest’ exception which would require leaving a tweet online but with the possibility of blocking ‘engagements’ such as retweets and likes.”
However, if Trump continues to flout the Twitter’s rules, the platform doesn’t rule out suspending or deleting his account. But such a move could well cause more trouble than Twitter cares to deal with:
“Some of Trump’s critics have called for him to be ‘de-platformed’ for his conduct, but such a move could create a political firestorm by acting against a leader with 80 million followers.
“They’re not going to want to put themselves out on a limb,” said Steven Livingston, director of the George Washington University Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics.”
But if Trump tests the waters by posting even more inflammatory or non-factual material on Twitter, top officials at the company may adjust their own response in ways that are certain to enrage the president and his followers.
Ironically, all of the controversy will probably wind up increasing Twitter’s visibility and making it even more of a player in the 2020 election.
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