Trump vs Twitter tango dances on

Monica Wilkie

04 June 2020 | Ideas@theCentre

Social media and Donald Trump are fighting — again. Twitter has started fact-checking Trump’s tweets and he is now threatening them with regulation.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order to examine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which “provides broad immunity to websites that curate and moderate their own [sic] platforms.”

This law prevents websites from being sued for posts made by others; for example, in the comments section or reviews.

The law has been described as “the 26 words that created the internet” and repealing it would force the federal government “into regulating online speech.”

But these concerns — although legitimate — are unlikely to come to fruition, because this is simply another round of Trump vs Twitter.

Trump supporters will see Twitter’s fact-checking initiative as further evidence of ‘Big Tech censorship’ Wwhile Trump’s detractors will see his tweets labelled as ‘misleading’ or ‘misinformation.’ And this will confirm the view they have been bleating for four years: that Trump is a ‘corrupt liar.’

The signing of the executive order is again more political theatre. Trump can claim he is standing up to the Big Tech bullies — without suffering the negative consequences of regulation.

This dance has been going on for years now.

After the election of Trump, social media companies were accused of allowing electoral interference and they have been routinely pressured to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Twitter’s latest stunt is an attempt to appease critics and is a classic example of ‘being seen to be doing something.’

Because realistically, no platform wants to kick Trump off — he is audience-building gold for them. And Trump does not want to shut down these companies;  he depends heavily on them to speak to his heartland.

Social media and politics are a performative exercise in which each side dutifully plays their part. Hence, they will continue to threaten and insult each other for the amusement of the crowd.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email