UPDATE: Twitter is at war with the US — and China


Related story: Twitter is also fact-checking the Chinese

Two of Trump’s close GOP allies in Congress signaled Wednesday a willingness to strip the social media giant of the special speech liability immunity it receives.”

What he doesn’t seem to have thought through is that the speech liability immunity is what allows them to have a Donald Trump Twitter account in the first place. If they become legally liable for every crazy thing he says on the platform, they would have no choice but to delete his account completely. The Joe Scarborough murder accusation, something that could not possibly be true, is the most recent example. Twitter had given Trump plenty of latitude with this because they are protected from liability, but if that protection is removed, Twitter would be legally liable for Trump’s obviously false accusations, meaning that the woman’s family and/or Morning Joe could sue them. They would basically be forced to delete his account, or at least to delete that and other legally actionable tweets.

Trump seems to think Twitter has singled him out for unfair treatment, and he is absolutely right. What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that it has been unfair in his favor. Twitter has been giving him preferential treatment for years. He has composed hundreds of Tweets that would have caused Joe Average to be banned permanently, but he has never even been given a temporary blackout.

22 thoughts on “UPDATE: Twitter is at war with the US — and China

  1. One can hardly believe that noted deep-thinker Donald Trump might fail to consider nor understand the implications and consequences of his actions

    Go figure.

    1. “One”. Yes, that is about the number of people who should believe that, Kevin. Just Trump.

  2. It seems somewhat ungrateful of Trump to attack the platform that is perhaps most responsible for him being elected president. But as much as Trump deserves to be fact checked and as truly vile Trump’s recent tweets about Joe Scarborough are, there are fairness issues with fact checking only 1 candidate. There can also be issues with who is doing the fact checking. I think it was Sean Spicer that coined the term “alternative facts.” That term was quickly understood to mean facts that a person just made up. But some facts can give an incomplete picture or can actually be misleading. Opinions may vary because some people believe untrue things. But they also vary because different people consider different true things more or less important. Fact checkers don’t always give an exhaustive rundown of all the facts that might be relevant.

    I recently read some complaints about the fact checking on Trump’s criticism of sending mail in ballot applications to all voters. Now I think mail in ballots may well be necessary this year because of the pandemic, but I do worry about fraud. While widespread voter fraud may not have been proven in those states who in the past few cycles have gone to 100% voting by mail, it seems to me that voting by mail would make fraud easier to commit. That could be as limited as a spouse insisting on seeing their partner’s ballot before it was sealed, to groups rounding up homeless people and paying them to vote a certain way, to the probably least likely scenario described by Trump of ballots being stolen and altered.

    Maybe the fair way to do it is to let Trump be fact checked by CNN and MSNBC and to have Biden fact checked by CNN and Fox News. In each case the mainstream view as well as the more ideological views would be represented giving people the most information with which to make up their mind. I have a feeling Trump wouldn’t like that system as it will almost certainly, no, WILL CERTAINLY catch him in more untruths.

    1. A) Sometimes facts are pretty straightforward, or rather, it is pretty easy to show something is a lie. This should be done wherever possible.

      B) Yes, some people believe things that are not true and will be upset about the lies pointed out in A), and will feel those who do so are lying. That is what there ought to be courts for.

      C) Are you trying to defend the term “alternative facts”? You are better than that, Michael McChesney. That is a slippery slope if I ever saw one.

      D) Interpreting facts, their meaning and implications: Don’t we have people for that? Pundits, and experts, and stuff?

      E) Ballot fraud by mail. People intimidating family members into voting one way or another. Maybe it is just my anti-Republican bias talking, but that sounds like something that would benefit the pro-violence party, which to my mind is the Rebublicans. Yep, I can see your typical Trumpers doing that, or employers trying to coerce employees into voting for Trump. The other way round? It’s not impossible, but the number seem to favor the Republicans there.

      Rounding up homeless people and paying them for their vote? Oh, yes, that would stay secret for about….what, 6 minutes? It would blow up a lot faster than that North Carolina thing, which I point out, was ALSO a Republican operation.

      These are all snap reactions. I am sure their multiplicity of flaws can be easily pointed out. But Trumps lies need to be confronted, and so do Republican efforts to exclude voters to their own advantage.

    2. The last time either party pulled off major electoral fraud was in Illinois – 60 bleeping years ago. As far as Trump goes, he has been lying and making up shit about this ever since 2016 – since he can’t accept that he lost the popular vote. His handpicked commission on electoral fraud fell apart when most of the members concluded that nothing of the sort occurred (and some changed their minds in that direction after the commission had started up). Only Trump sheep actually believe that crap. I’m more worried about Trump’s attempts to disenfranchise than any supposed attempts to commit voter fraud. You’re a lawyer so just maybe you should be looking for the Trumpers to come up with just the slightest bit of evidence here.

    3. The idea of voter fraud by mail is just fucking insane, I’m sorry. We can’t even get people to go out and vote LEGITIMATELY, yet there’s this conspiracy that there’s these imaginary voter houses that somehow know EXACTLY who won’t vote to avoid suspicion on double voting cooking the vote with illegitimate votes?

      Or the alternative, paying the homeless, who are mostly mentally ill or addicts, to find information on which district they belong to for voting? What the hell are these alleged fraud coordinators going to do, put a sign that says ‘Free Heroin!’ and have them come in like the zombie apocalypse?

      And the closest state by percentage last election was 0.3% in Michigan – which was *STILL* over 13,000 votes! How do you even coordinate something to make up that difference? Have an underground network in the age of social media with 100 different crack/heroin herding houses that need 130 addicts information each for votes?

      This is why it was marked on Twitter. It’s so fucking stupid on every single level. It literally fails the what, when, why, where, and how test for how it could ever work and who would ever have the motivation to do it on the scale required to tilt even a single state.

      I would say it’s more likely for someone hiding a hole that goes to the core of the earth in their backyard over this. It’s just one of those things that fail every logic test imaginable when you think anywhere beyond a superficial level.

    4. OK, where to start. I’m not spinning anything. As much of a liar that Trump is, you still shouldn’t fact check only one side in an election.

      I wasn’t trying to defend Sean Spicer or to defend the term “alternative facts,” at least not as the term has come to be used. But as I said, different people may consider different true things more or less important than other people. If not for the way Spicer used the term, alternate facts might be a good way to describe what I am talking about. But Sean Spicer has ensured the term will be synonymous with “made up facts” for the foreseeable future.

      It’s funny, a person on the left will think a spouse pressuring their spouse to vote a certain way is more likely to be a Republican thing. On the right, a person may think a labor union might pressure its members to vote a certain way. There have been examples of left leaning organizations busing homeless people to the polls. But I am not saying mail in ballots are inherently fraudulent. Just that it might make fraud easier to commit.

      Republicans do seem more afraid of voter fraud than Democrats. Republicans generally believe that’s because voter fraud is more likely to benefit Democrats. The left usually argues that Republican concerns are just subterfuge for attempted voter suppression. But in my experience that concern is mostly genuine. I have known Republican campaign operatives that will speak amongst themselves of needing to “overcome the margin of fraud.” I can speak of one instance of fraud I saw personally. 10 months after my father died, I went to vote and saw that someone had signed his name to the voter roll and (presumably) voted. I can’t say for certain it was part of some larger plot, but it was an off year election and a low turn out might make such fraud more effective. The thing about that kind of fraud is that while it might be prevented with an ID requirement, without such a requirement it is unlikely to be discovered.

      Just to be clear, I don’t shill or spin for Trump. I may at times be in error, but if so I come by those errors honestly. There are plenty of people out there that do nothing but parrot the Trump line. They don’t need my help. But if I were one of those I wouldn’t have called Trump’s tweets vile. Trump is a vile human being. I think Trump was more a symptom than the cause of the political toxicity in this country but he has managed to increase the toxicity to new heights. But I will say again, if Twitter facts checks him, they need to fact check Biden as well. Otherwise, you are just making it easier for Trump to convince people the media and tech companies are biased against him.

      1. I don’t believe anyone has said they are only fact-checking one side. They apparently have every intention of fact-checking all misleading posts from significant figures in the USA and elsewhere. Of course if one side lies less, they would get tagged less.

        “Just that it might make fraud easier to commit.” If Trump had worded it that way, he probably would not have been tagged. It’s just a simple, speculative opinion, reasonably stated.

        The fact that Republicans are more afraid of voter fraud is a mask. They are not afraid of fraud, per se. They are afraid of voter participation. Most Republicans can’t just come out and say that, so they use their official euphemism “prevent voter fraud.” Trump, however is not any Republican. He always says the quiet part out loud. He openly admitted, “They had levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

        As pure speculation on my part, they are also projecting. Since they are willing to commit any act to get elected, they feel their opponents would as well. This is a sub-set of Scoop’s Unfinishable Syllogism, which states:

        Republicans always lie
        Republicans say that Democrats always lie
        Therefore …

        Trump has already convinced his voters that everyone in the mainstream media and academia is biased against him. That will always be the case, no matter what.

        And in fact it is accurate. They are biased against him. If they were not, they would not be doing their jobs. Let’s face it, the media and analysts are in pursuit of facts, and facts are biased against Trump, therefore fact-checkers are biased against Trump. Why deny it? It is a good thing. If we could bring back the dead, and Hitler ran against Abraham Lincoln, should the media try to pretend as if the choices were equivalent? Of course not. They should pursue the truth, and the truth is biased against Hitler.

        By the way, I support the voter ID requirement, as long as every eligible voter can get a valid government ID at no cost, and as long as the place where you get the ID is open the same hours and in the same places as the actual voting booths. That means if people can’t get an ID, then they couldn’t have made it to the polls anyway.

        As for me, I oppose mail-in ballots except in special circumstances. A pandemic is a special circumstance, just like being in the service overseas or having a disability that prevents one from getting to the polls.

        1. I can’t see into the heart of every Republican that says they are concerned about voter fraud. But my concern is sincere. Back in my younger days when I was more active in politics the Republicans with whom I discussed the issue seemed sincere as well.

          Wanting to require ID to vote isn’t about suppressing legitimate votes as far as I’m concerned. Free government ID for everyone is fine with me. It’s important for so much more than voting. But not wanting to put extra impediments to voting in place is not the same thing as wanting to make voting as effortless as possible. If a person doesn’t care enough about voting to request an absentee ballot or show up at the polls, I doubt they would be making an effort to be an informed voter. Maybe that is just a justification because I do think a higher percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents turn out to vote than do Democrats and Democrat leaning independents. I think requiring some effort to vote is fair, but also the alternative hurts the political party I support. I am against granting statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for a similar reason. But I would never admit that. Oh wait, I guess I would.

          1. Seems like projection to me. They may fear it sincerely, but if they do, it is because fraud is in their hearts, so they assume it is in everyone’s.

            It’s always weird when a guy is trying to prevent you from doing something you would never consider doing in the first place, and you wonder why. To me this is like when a guy says something like, “You know you’d rape her if you got the chance,” so you think “wtf?” and realize he would do just that, then warn your female friends about this guy.

            That’s basically what happened in the 2016 gubernatorial election in North Carolina, won by a Democrat. Republicans came forward in droves to allege fraud in 50 counties, all of which turned out to be baseless! So you had to wonder, “Why did all those Republicans think there might be fraud when there was none at all?” To me the answer was obvious: they had either committed it themselves, or were planning to, and assumed it was commonplace. Maybe they even wondered, “How could he have beaten us with all the cheating we did? He must have cheated more!” Well, sure enough, just a bit down the road, a North Carolina Republican made voter fraud his campaign strategy.

            With the exception of that recent case in North Carolina, I don’t think anyone has found an example of voter fraud having decided a major election in decades – not even in the most corrupt states like Illinois and Louisiana. Getting away from emotions and anecdotes and into reality, this issue has been studied to death, and every study has concluded that voter fraud is exceedingly rare.


            But I have to admit that Mayor Daley, Huey Long, Joe Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were masters at all types of election fraud back in the good old days when Democrats and their union cronies were more corrupt than the Republicans. (Well, than MOST Republicans. Nixon was an outlier.)

          2. Guys – just curious: where is this mythical land where they give out IDs for free?

          3. It doesn’t exist, that I know of, but I noted that I would support voter ID


            (1) ID’s were distributed for free


            (2) They could be obtained conveniently by (virtually) everyone.

            They become voter suppression tools when people without cars have to take off a day of work and travel dozens of miles on public transportation (paying out money they don’t have) to get them. Republicans know that process will prevent many poor urban and rural citizens from getting them. But if people could get them 24 hours a day during a sign-up period for a couple of weeks per year from markets and convenience stores within walking distance of their house, manned by neighborhood volunteers, I’d jump on board.

            But not until this COVID thing is under control.

      2. So what if it is a sincere concern? It’s long past time for someone to establish some reality or fact in regard to such claims. Particularly when their loudest proponent has been documented to be the most prolific liar of anyone in modern American history (and I’m old enough to remember Nixon and LBJ, neither of them exactly paragons of “truthiness”).
        The fact is that Trump, who as you acknowledge is a vile person, has transformed the Republican Party into the Trump Party whose “leadership” has become a rubber stamp and whose membership has largely become an echo chamber for his moronic ravings. You can call it Republican but it isn’t anymore.

        1. No, the GOP is now a fascist party whose goal is retaining power…and providing for the 1% with ever more tax cuts. Voter ID laws in the South are solely targeted at reducing the minority vote. Indeed, voter fraud appears to have a significant GOP component. See NC

          1. Why do you think they believe Democrats will commit voter fraud? Classic projection. Since they are perfectly willing to do it, they assume it is inherent in human nature.

      3. Michael McChesney, why are you going to bat for the term “alternative facts”? Yes, you can struggle to come with an alternative meaning for it, but why? It means the same thing as “alternative reality”, and the same thing is true about it: no matter how much we wish, there is no such thing. I should think you would know this.

        Are you trying to convince yourself, somehow, that it is OK to vote for Trump? Please don’t, because it’s not. Not in reality, anyhow.

        1. Roger, the point I was trying to make is that people can have sincere disagreements with the grade of a fact checker, sometimes because of an emphasis on different true facts. As I was originally writing about that I started to type alternative facts and then remembered how Spicer used the term. I have no particular affinity for the phrase. I just found it slightly inconvenient that Spicer ruined it. What I was trying to make clear by discussing the term is that I was talking about true facts, NOT “alternative facts” in the Spicer sense.

          I’m not trying to convince myself to vote for Trump. I live in New York and I therefore have the luxury of voting against a man I despise without any concern that my vote will affect the outcome of the election. But there are times I start to think it might be better if Trump wins, but invariably Trump will do or say something (such as accusing Joe Scarborough of murder) to bring me back to wanting him to lose.

          Honestly, I find the whole thing incredibly depressing. I care a great deal about the Supreme Court and the various Courts of Appeal. A 5 – 4 majority is a fragile thing. There are First Amendment cases dealing with freedom of speech and freedom of Religion that I fear may be overturned if Democratic nominees become a majority on the Supreme Court. I also support the reduction of regulations enacted by the Trump administration. I think more across the board tax cuts are probably a mistake given our recently exploded deficits, but regulatory relief can do a great deal to help the economy. I doubt a Biden administration would reduce as many regulations. And then a week or two might go by without Trump acting too terribly and I will start to think maybe it would be better if he won and then BAM. I’ve had candidates I support lose elections before. But at least I was able to root for them to win without any accompanying feelings of dread. Trump has made sure I won’t be able to do that until 2024. But at least I can root for my Mets to win… Well maybe I can be a little less depressed come July.

          1. Cutting regulations often produces false economies. It’s easy to notice the firms who benefit, but depending on the specific regulation being cut, the losers can be diffuse and so not as easily noticed, or the losers can be the taxpayers and citizens in general. It certainly is the case that businesses like to privatize profits while socializing costs.

            I’m certainly not saying there aren’t counter-productive regulations or regulations where the benefits are less than the costs, but anytime you try and seriously ask a politician what they’re referring to with ‘cutting red tape’ and come up with a couple of provokative examples, they always end up saying “of course I don’t mean those regulations!”

            Of course, sometimes they do mean those regulations but they didn’t want to admit to it before the election.

          2. Michael McChesney, thanks for your civil and intelligent reply. To put your concern into words I would use, I would say that while facts concerning the physical world can be objectively established, when it comes to human affairs and human actions, truth can be far more difficult to be certain of.

            (Boy,would George Orwell hate that sentence. There has to be some concrete, graphic, and memorable way to say that, but I can’t think of it.)

            Anyway, if that is what you mean, I understand. I might suggest that when it comes to Trump and his crew, their words and actions are so blatant that they leave little room for misinterpretation. But I don’t listen or read much that gives the Trump the benefit of the doubt. That appears to me to be because he never deserves any, but that is just the same point all over again.

            I need to learn to ask questions more and make declarations less.

            PS – there was a movie released in about 1979 that I liked and no one else on earth appeared to. It’s theme is epistemology, and in particular the difficulty of ever knowing what to believe about human actions. It starred Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, the lovely Belinda Bauer, and an amazing range of cameos. It is in the form of a thriller about learning the truth about a presidential assassination.

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