Trump is effectively inciting harassment of a Twitter employee in response to enforcing its content policies. The company is in an impossible position. (TWTR)
Donald Trump is effectively inciting harassment against one of Twitter's employees. Yoel Roth is being targeted after Twitter fact-checked two inaccurate tweets from the president. Trump wants Twitter to back down and stop applying its rules. Twitter now must choose between making a mockery of its policies and holding firm and facing ever-more negative political scrutiny and attacks on its employees.
Twitter is in an impossible position. President Donald Trump is effectively inciting harassment of one of its employees in response to the company correctly applying its policies. It now faces a choice between enforcing its policies and facing ever-more harassment and negative political scrutiny — or to back down, making a mockery of its rules. The firestorm started on Tuesday, when Twitter took the unprecedented step of applying fact-checks to two inaccurate tweets from Trump that made allegations about mail-in ballot fraud. Trump responded in fury, initially threatening to shut down social media platforms, before going on to prepare to sign an executive order targeting their legal protections. Meanwhile, his right-wing supporters began attacking Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity, over the fact-checks and his past negative tweets about Trump — despite the fact that wasn't responsible for the fact-check decision. On Thursday, Trump dramatically escalated matters — directly targeting Roth in a tweet to his 80 million followers: "So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD," he tweeted. "How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel." (@yoyoel is Roth's Twitter handle.) Roth has already received harassment and death threats after being targeted by the right. Trump's tweet is certain to inflame this. It also arguably violates Twitter's policies on harassment, which "prohibit behavior that encourages others to harass or target specific individuals or groups with abusive behavior. This includes, but is not limited to; calls to target people with abuse or harassment online and behavior that urges offline action such as physical harassment." The question is whether the phrase "tell that to your hater" is directed at Twitter, asking the company to talk to its employee, or at Trump's Twitter followers as an instruction to swarm the employee with messages. Either way, the outcome is the same: Roth will face a new tidal wave of abuse as a result of the president's tweet. Taken collectively, Trump's actions are a clear attempt at intimidation. He wants the social network to back down, stop its fact-checking, and generally bend to his will. (The attack are also viewed as popular with Trump's voter base; some on the right have long made unproven claims of anti-conservative bias by tech companies.) But Twitter has now set a precedent. To stop its fact-checking efforts now would be to admit it had been bullied into submission by the president, and that any of its rules can be broken if you're powerful enough. The alternative, though, is to face escalating right-wing anger, further hostile legislation and executive orders, and unfounded harassment of its employees by the most powerful man in the world. Do you work at Twitter? Contact Business Insider reporter Rob Price via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 650-636-6268), encrypted email (firstname.lastname@example.org), standard email (email@example.com), Telegram/Wickr/WeChat (robaeprice), or Twitter DM (@robaeprice). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by standard email only, please.SEE ALSO: Trump is unleashing an executive order against social media companies, and it could trigger a legal fight they desperately want to avoid Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
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Trump again accused Twitter of anti-Republican bias after #TrumpMeltdown appeared to be trending on the site: 'Only negative on Republican voices, especially mine!' (TWTR)
President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused social media companies — Twitter in particular — of anti-Republican...President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused social media companies — Twitter in particular — of anti-Republican bias. In a tweet early on Thursday morning, Trump went after Twitter's Trending section — a sidebar on the platform that shows a range of popular topics based on region. "It's never a real Twitter Trending. It's Twitter Executive's Choice," Trump said on Thursday. "Only negative on Republican voices, especially mine!" Twitter declined to comment, but a representative pointed to the company's public FAQ on how the Trending section works. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Trump once again accused Twitter of anti-Republican bias on Thursday morning, this time going after the "Trending" function of the social media service. "It's never a real Twitter Trending. It's Twitter Executive's Choice," he said on Twitter. "Only negative on Republican voices, especially mine!" Twitter's "Trending" section is a rotating list of subjects being discussed on Twitter, by region. On Thursday in the United States, for instance, a variety of different subjects were trending by hashtag — including "#TrumpMeltdown." In Trump's tweet, he accuses Twitter's Trending section of being tailored by Twitter's executives — instead of trends happening based on user behavior. A Twitter representative declined to comment, but pointed to a publicly available FAQ on how Twitter's Trending section works. "Trends are determined by an algorithm and, by default, are tailored for you based on who you follow, your interests, and your location," the page says. "This algorithm identifies topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter." President Trump, a daily Twitter user, has repeatedly accused the company of anti-Republican — and anti-Trump — bias. Most recently, when the company flagged a tweet of his about mail-in voting as false, Trump attacked the company publicly and signed an executive order aimed directly at social media companies. Through the order, Trump aims to regulate how social media companies like Twitter and Facebook moderate speech on their platforms. It also orders the Federal Trade Commission to log user complaints about political bias they experience on social media. Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.SEE ALSO: Trump is attacking a Twitter employee over the company's decision to fact-check him because the employee criticized Trump in past tweets Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
After 4 years of timidity, Facebook and Twitter are finally taking basic steps to curb Trump's worst instincts
Facebook and Twitter are finally taking measures to curb President Donald Trump's most egregious posts on...Facebook and Twitter are finally taking measures to curb President Donald Trump's most egregious posts on their platforms. The two companies have variously fact-checked, hidden, or added warning labels to posts and ads from the president over the last month. It is a major shift from their earlier hands-off approach. But the action comes after four years of timidity, when the platforms struggled to regulate a president who regularly violates the norms of responsible free speech. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. After four years of timidity, Silicon Valley is finally standing up to President Donald Trump. Trump has upended the norms of responsible free speech, communicating vitriol and new policy in equal measure directly to his huge followings on Twitter and Facebook. Since taking office in 2016, Trump has tweeted around 17,000 times, often bypassing traditional media and other methods of mass communication. He has used his platforms to whip up his base and to mislead voters. A Washington Post analysis that tracked Trump's misleading statements during his first 100 days in office found he had made 492 false claims during that period. Some 99 were issued via Twitter. Another 7 were on Facebook. And a paper published in March 2018 by Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz of the University of Warwick found that anti-Muslim tweets by Trump correlated with anti-Muslim hate crimes. After almost four years of this behavior, Twitter and Facebook have taken the mildest possible action. On May 26, Twitter added a fact-check tag to two Trump tweets that falsely claimed that mail-in ballots cast in California would be "substantially fraudulent" and result in a "Rigged Election." Twitter did not delete either tweet, but simply appended each post with a link and the caption: "Get the facts about mail-in ballots." Two days later, it hid a Trump tweet that appeared to threaten the George Floyd protesters in Minneapolis, stating that the post broke its rules around glorifying violence. Again, it did not delete the tweet. Since then it has removed a video posted by Trump over claims of a copyright breach. On Thursday it also tagged a video posted by the president that was doctored to seem like it came from CNN with a "manipulated media" tag. Facebook has largely left the president's posts on Facebook and Instagram alone, citing a policy of not fact-checking political speech. On Thursday, the company changed tack slightly and removed a Trump campaign ad that featured an inverted red triangle, a symbol once used by the Nazis to tag suspected Communists and other political opponents. Facebook said the ad violated its policies on hate speech. Separately, Snapchat announced that it would stop promoting Trump's account in its Discover feed, saying the president's posts on Black Lives Matter incited racial violence. These moves are a first step towards reining in political discourse ahead of the 2020 election. They have already prompted repercussions. The Trump administration is currently threatening to roll back the protections currently in place for internet firms which have broadly granted them immunity from taking legal responsibility for what people post on their platforms. Trump's executive order on social media firms came directly after Twitter began fact-checking his tweets. It is nonetheless amazing it has taken this long for the big tech firms to act, and then in so small a fashion. Twitter's position has evolved over the years, but the company has conventionally thought of itself as "the free speech wing of the free speech party" and clung to that belief even as its platform became rife with abuse and trolling. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has only just begun to publicly denounce remarks made by Trump, stating in a letter that he was "deeply shaken and disgusted by Trump's incendiary rhetoric." This was only after weeks of sustained outrage and walkouts from his own employees and censure from civil rights groups. Those who want Twitter and Facebook to act faster and more robustly do have one card left — pressuring advertisers to pull their spending. This week, civil rights groups called for an advertiser boycott on Facebook, saying the platform amplifies white supremacists and misinformation. Since both Facebook and Twitter predominantly make their money through ads, it's possible that pressure on their wallets may force them into faster action where moral pressure did not.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
After the social media company labeled two of the president’s tweets as inaccurate on Tuesday, his...After the social media company labeled two of the president’s tweets as inaccurate on Tuesday, his adherents pounced.