President Trump is the first president to use Twitter as his primary method of communicating with the public. It’s been an important tool for the president to rally his base around the core themes of his presidency. Many have considered his tweets to be purposely misleading, if not factual incorrect at times. A recent presidential outburst accusing his outspoken critic Joe Scarborough has led Twitter to add fact-checking notices to two of the President’s tweets.
One day after the fact-check notices, Trump used his Twitter account to threaten to either regulate or shut down social media companies altogether. He wrote, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that…. ….happen again. Just like we can’t let large-scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery, and the theft of Ballots. Whoever created the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
Many observers found Trump’s post to be odd due to his traditional opposition to business regulation. Others objected to the view that major social media companies have an anti-conservative bias. Those critics will likely take note that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg clashed with progressive Elizabeth Warren over her anti-competitive practices proposals for big technology companies.
Republicans, other than the president, have been critical of social media’s relationship to politics. “Big tech gets a huge handout from the federal government,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said to Fox News. “They get this special immunity, this special immunity from suits and from liability that’s worth billions of dollars to them every year. Why are they getting subsidized by federal taxpayers to censor conservatives, to censor people critical of China.” Hawley was referencing a new controversy over deletions of comments critical of the Chinese Communist Party on YouTube.