The Washington Post’s fact checking team, who fashion themselves as arbiters of truth, in March highlighted a presidential campaign ad as dishonest as they come. A Post video specialist determined that some of the visuals in the ad were taken out of context, some were deceptively edited, and most egregiously, some were deliberately altered. The Post awarded the ad four Pinocchios, the highest (or lowest depending on your point of view), recognition for lies and distortion.
Another sleazy example of Campaign Trump spreading lies and misinformation? Think again. It was an ad for Joe Biden featuring the declaration, “We Choose Truth Over Lies.” You can find it here on Twitter.
FactCheck, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, on Wednesday issued a report citing four lies and distortions Biden made during a recent ‘Breakfast Club’ radio interview, not including his “you ain’t black” claim about African Americans who don’t vote for him. As for sinking so low as to make unfounded allegations about a political opponent killing someone, the Democrats aren’t above that either.
In 2012 an Obama-aligned super PAC insinuated that Republican candidate Mitt Romney was responsible for a woman’s death. The allegation related to the premature death of a woman who died after Romney’s Bain Capital closed a plant where her husband worked. PolitiFact ranked that ad entirely false.
Politics is inherently dirty and dishonest, and trying to referee the sport is akin to regulating a knife fight. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg understands this which is why he’s resisted the liberal censorship mob and refused to fact-check Trump political ads posted on his site. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey mistakenly believes his social media site has the resources, talent, and maturity to regulate truth. He failed miserably right out of the gate.
Twitter on Tuesday added fact-checking footnotes to two of President Trump’s tweets relating to mail-in balloting. But the social media site had to correct its fact checks after the Wall Street Journal noted they were inaccurate. The Twitter fact checkers confused automatic all-mail voting with absentee ballots.
How did the confusion happen? Twitter mistakenly viewed CNN a credible news site. Gilad Edelman at Wired explains:
One of the top authorities cited (by Twitter) is CNN’s Chris Cillizza, a pundit notorious for his focus on horse-race political optics, not public policy. A bit farther down is a tweet from Jennifer Bendery, a reporter at HuffPost, an unabashedly liberal publication. Her source? Oregon governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, whom Bendery quotes as saying, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” That may be true, but the fact that another politician disagrees with Trump hardly proves that Trump is wrong. The president was bound to accuse Twitter of bias no matter what, but this sort of sourcing makes the complaint far too easy to lodge.
Only a fool would consider themselves an instant subject authority based on articles from CNN and HuffPost. It hardly fosters confidence that the expertise of the Twitter executive claiming responsibility for combating misinformation on Twitter relates to privacy and safety issues on gay social networks.
His name is Yoel Roth, and he holds a doctorate in communication from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his interest in New York City “trannies,” Roth has expressed some pointed views on President Trump and Senate leader Mitch McConnell that disqualify him as being even remotely objective in his political views.
Twitter has demonstrated it can’t combat altered or mistaken images in real time. A widely circulated tweet yesterday mistook Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, as the officer who attended a Minneapolis rally for Trump. Twitter only took corrective action after Breitbart noted the error but it had already spread like wildfire. A selectively edited video that went viral last year on Twitter was responsible for a slew of erroneous stories about a Covington High School student’s interaction with a Native American.
Dorsey’s arrogance, or perhaps more charitably his naivete, in regulating Trump has caused potential regulation harm and aids his reelection efforts. Conservatives, with good reason, believe that Google, Twitter, and Facebook want to censor their views. Twitter’s attempts to discredit Trump while allowing Biden to lie and distort at will reinforces the perception. While Trump’s executive order to limit the broad protections social media companies enjoy likely won’t pass legal muster, it allows him to position himself as a crusader against liberal thought domination and opinion. There are many people, myself included, who dislike Trump but also resent having hypocrites whose values we don’t share tell us what we can read, think, and say.
Dorsey wrongfully also wants to authenticate the accuracy of corporate owned media by using these publications for factual determinations when surveys overwhelmingly confirm Americans of both political stripes don’t trust the media. That distrust also is justified as accuracy is no longer a hallmark of American journalism. The New York Times recently was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a commentary on the founding of America that six prominent historians say was riddled with egregious errors.
Twitter hardly needs to warn its users about Trump’s dishonesty. A 2019 Pew Research Center study found that 97 percent of tweets from U.S. adults relating to American national politics came from 10 percent of users. The overwhelming number of tweets came from users who “strongly disapprove” of the president.
It’s also debatable whether a substantial Twitter following is a measurement of real-world influence. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who actively campaigned for Senator Bernie Sanders, has seven million followers. Sanders was defeated because millennials didn’t show up in sizeable numbers at the ballot box.
Perhaps Dorsey genuinely wants to stop the cancerous spread of false and misleading information on Twitter. If that’s the case here’s a surefire solution: Shut the site down.