Twitter puts warning label on Trump tweet again

Donald Trump and Twitter have been exchanging blows for a week now. After the Internet company slapped fake news warnings on tweets by the US president, Trump signed a decree restricting the rights of social networks. Now Twitter has again flagged a Trump tweet for glorifying violence. What will be the upshot of the conflict?

Open/close all quotes
France Inter (FR) /

Don't give platforms all the responsibility

Due to the hugely important role played by social networks, their responsibilities must be swiftly clarified, columnist Pierre Haski urges on the website of radio broadcaster France Inter:

“While there is a clear definition of responsibility for the media, that of digital platforms is less clear. Because although Zuckerberg does not want to be the 'arbiter of truth' - which is a good thing - in fact he is because Facebook's algorithm has a significant impact on what we do and don't read in our news feeds. And above all it's very hard to define who should be responsible if you want to find a balance between freedom and responsibility. In a world full of fake news - including that of presidents - as well as manipulation and emotions, it's dangerous to give the platforms all the responsibility.”

Welt am Sonntag (DE) /

Twitter needs democratically legitimised rules

The decision about the legality of tweets should not be left to Twitter itself, says Welt am Sonntag editor-in-chief Johannes Boie:

“Regardless of what you might think about Trump, who gives this company the right to label the president's tweet as glorifying violence? Meanwhile, the Iranian dictator Khamenei is allowed to demand the destruction of Israel on Twitter without being disturbed. The argument that a private company can do whatever it pleases doesn't go far enough here. ... And the set of rules that applies for them must be created and democratically legitimised. The decision as to what is and what is not glorification of violence must be left to officials with the appropriate training. ... The click slaves and algorithms of the networks cannot do this.”

Ukrayinska Pravda (UA) /

The price of naivety

It's not just with the US that we see how important fact-checks in social media are, points out Lyubov Zybulska, an expert on hybrid warfare, in Ukrayinska Pravda:

“In 2014 we saw Kremlin social network operations influencing the events in Ukraine on an unprecedented scale. It's difficult to say what price we paid for our credulity and lack of a clear policy on misinformation through social media. ... Social networks find themselves caught between two forces. On the one hand there are those who populistically believe that there should be no censorship on these platforms. They have the US president on their side. And on the other side are those who have been observing the danger of arbitrariness on social platforms for years, and understand the great potential they offer for manipulation.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Just a new distraction?

The less the corona crisis is talked about, the better for Trump, Ilta-Sanomat comments:

“Many see this as a new gambit by the master manipulator. The number of corona victims in the United States has now surpassed 100,000. The Trump administration is accused of having made serious mistakes in the fight against the virus. It suits Trump if people's attention is shifted to other matters. And that's just what he's achieved with this new dispute. But that doesn't mean Trump is not really angry. He sometimes behaves like a spoiled little child. Now someone has touched his favourite toy.”

Protagon.gr (GR) /

An opportunity for the Twitter president

Trump could use Twitter's fake news warning to his advantage, Protagon fears:

“This is something that Trump needs more than anything else: a war with the big players in the technology industry. Is there anything more anti-systemic that he can sell to his audience? ... If the United States changes the way platforms work, those changes may be reflected in the rules we use as the basis for public debate in the digital world. Of course there is a problem. Facebook is a hotspot for fake news, and the very structure of Twitter encourages polarisation. ... A global discussion of the way it functions may now be necessary. But it shouldn't be kicked off by Trump.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

A direct line to voters

Twitter and Trump have a love-hate relationship, observes NRC Handelsblad:

“Trump can't get by without Twitter, as he himself has said often enough. The social network allows him to reach out to his voters without the help of journalists. The fact that Twitter is now labelling his messages with warnings interferes with his direct connection to his voters. ... In addition, Trump's election strategy largely consists of attacking opponents with unproven allegations. Trump's re-election in 2020 could be jeopardised if social networks like Twitter take more stringent action against lying politicians.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Digital Wild West must be regulated

It is high time for tighter controls on the spread of news through the social media, columnist Gianni Riotta comments approvingly in La Stampa:

“The topic is of crucial importance: platforms can no longer hide behind a fictitious neutrality while paying more attention to profits than to the truth. At the same time, however, they cannot act as censors against ideas - and in the US even lies about vaccines or political murders are legal, except in cases of 'actual malice' [knowledge that a fact is false, or reckless disregard for whether it is false or not]. ... Twitter's brave decision opens the debate, and that's a good thing. Even leaders now know that they have to stick to the facts.”

Der Spiegel (DE) /

Platform's flaws becoming clear

This kind of fact-checking is pointless, Der Spiegel jeers:

“Twitter trying to pass off citing 'CNN, the Washington Post and others' and placing a few links to articles and tweets by journalists as fact-checking is an inappropriate decision. ... Not that these sources are bad in themselves. It's just that nobody who takes Trump seriously will also take these media seriously. This exemplifies Twitter's structural problem: the company has various guidelines for dealing with incorrect information but no suitable partner that could enforce them. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't work with external fact checkers, but decides internally what should be counted as fake news. ... In any case, this first fact-check [of a Trump tweet] looks very much like a template for many own goals.”

The Times (GB) /

Blind in the left eye

Twitter, Google and Co. are as left-leaning in their classification of posts as most traditional media, The Times complains:

“You may think Mr Trump lies more than other politicians, but it's not unreasonable to ask that the same standards applied to him by Twitter, Google and elsewhere should be applied to his opponents. Big tech dominates our information flow like nothing else. The technology they've developed has the ability to enable a diversity of voices on the full range of political, cultural and other issues. But instead those companies are moving to ensure that their platforms are dominated by the same narrow selection of voices that dominate most of the rest of the media.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Biden has to win

The current US president's style of politics has Dagen Nyheter begging for a new president:

“Because of coronavirus, Joe Biden has been forced to conduct his campaign from his home in Delaware. Nevertheless, Barack Obama's vice president is leading the polls. ... But that could change quickly and what's really strange is that Biden's lead isn't bigger. We have a president calling on Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant while the death toll from Covid-19 has exceeded 100,000. He mocks his allies, concludes bizarre agreements with North Korea and colludes with Russia in secret. He sides with right-wing extremists, directs armies of trolls, and threatens to shut down malicious media that tell the truth behind his lies. Just win, Biden!”