Despite US President Donald Trump issuing an executive order for an investigation into the capacity for social media platforms to edit or add warning labels to tweets under US law, Twitter remains undeterred in its process.
Today, the platform has added a warning to yet another tweet from Trump for violating its rules against abusive behavior.
We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.https://t.co/AcmW6O6d4t
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 23, 2020
The full tweet in question is this:
This is in response to the establishment of a six-block ‘autonomous zone’ in Seattle, which is a form of protest where citizens occupy a defined section and declare it free of government and police rule. Trump has repeatedly urged Washington officials to “take back” the zone, by force if necessary.
Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle, run by Radical Left Democrats, of course. LAW & ORDER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2020
In further explaining its decision to take action on the tweet, Twitter says that Trump’s comment will remain active, but engagements with the Tweet will be limited.
“People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it.”
Facebook, where Trump posted the same comment, has once again opted not to take any action.
The move will likely further provoke Trump’s anger towards Twitter, potentially boosting his push for a reform of Section 230 laws which, in theory, limit social platforms for legal liability over what users post.
The Justice Department released its recommendations for Section 230 reforms last week, including this proposed amendment:
“The new statutory definition would limit immunity for content moderation decisions to those done in accordance with plain and particular terms of service and consistent with public representations. These measures would encourage platforms to be more transparent and accountable to their users.”
In other words, social platforms would not be able to make any changes to content outside of updates made specifically in line with established and communicated platform rules, in plain terms. Any changes beyond that scope would be liable for legal recourse, which could significantly complicate the enforcement of such decisions.
Most legal experts don’t expect these changes to be upheld, but it does seem likely that Section 230 will be re-shaped, in some way, to better cater to the evolving online space.
Some have also suggested that Trump’s retaliatory push for Section 230 reform is merely a bullying tactic to stop the platforms from limiting what he can say – but if that is the case, then Twitter is clearly not backing down. This is the third time within the last month that Twitter has taken enforcement action on Trump’s comments.
This also comes as Facebook comes under even more pressure over its decision not to follow Twitter’s lead and take more action against misinformation and hate speech. A coalition of civil rights groups has launched a new campaign calling on businesses to pause their Facebook ad spend in July, in protest over the company’s inaction on such, while a separate investigation this week has found that Facebook has allowed some climate change denial content to remain up on its network under the guide that it’s opinion, and therefore exempt from fact-checking.
Interestingly, Facebook has also touted its improved efforts to address hate speech, publishing a post which outlines the results of the latest European Commission tests on its hate speech policy and approach.
“The report was published this week, and it showed that we are reviewing reports of hate speech quicker than before, deleting more of it and doing it transparently.”
So Facebook, while coming under pressure for allowing hate speech from high profile users, is actually addressing the same from regular users at a higher rate than ever. Which seems like a conflicting set of results.
Allowing misinformation under the guise of ‘opinion’ (note: the information was marked as false by independent fact-checkers, a ruling that Facebook reportedly overturned) also seems flawed – particularly when you’re running a platform that over 1.7 billion people log into, and get news from, every day.
The latest action by Twitter brings this into contrast yet again, and while Facebook would prefer to take a hands-off approach with political content, and let users decide on what’s being said, clearly, there’s a need for more consideration of the best way forward on this front.