President Trump went on the offense against Twitter earlier this week after the social media platform began adding “fact-checking” warnings to undermine his tweets. Trump’s tweet concerning mail in-voting sparked the fight:
[Twitter] is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election,” the president tweeted. “They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post. Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!
Twitter placed a warning under Trump’s tweets concerning mail-in voting that read, “Get the facts about the mail-in ballot,” followed by a link to a site that claimed the President’s facts were wrong in what he posted about “CNN, Washington Post and others.”
The tweet that Twitter fact-checked read:
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one … This will be a Rigged Election. No way!
When a follower clicks on the Twitter warning they are sent to a Twitter page that is titled, “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.” Under the “What you need to know section” Twitter’s editors wrote:
- Trump claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.
- Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.
- Five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting, according to NBC News.
While Twitter pointed to sources like The Washington Post and NBC that claim mail-in voting fraud is “extremely rare,” no mention is made of evidence from other sources like The Heritage Foundation that provide evidence to the contrary.
The Heritage Foundation created a database to track claims of voter fraud cases. In just the four years since its inception they have amassed over 1200 proven instances of voter fraud.
One such case involves John and Grace Fleming. The couple was found guilty of duplicate voting, once in person in Massachusetts and once by absentee ballot in New Hampshire.
In another case Reginald Holman, a city council member in Ashtabula, Ohio was forced from office when he illegally registered at his parents’ address in Ashtabula rather than his actual residence in Plymouth, Ohio.
Even other Silicon Valley tech giants disagree with Twitter’s plan of action. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News anchor Dana Perino that private companies “shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth.” Zuckerberg rebuked Twitter, saying, “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
President Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale ridiculed Twitter, saying, “Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters.”
Republicans have long claimed that social media, based in the progressive stronghold of Silicon Valley, is biased against conservatives and conservative causes. Twitter’s “fact-checking” has intensified that criticism. Rep. Matt Gaetz (Rep.-FL) has drafted a bill to “walk back” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, legal protection that prevents tech platforms to be held liable for what their users post.
The stakes are even higher since the COVID-19 outbreak as states like California move to use the mail-in vote during the 2020 presidential election.