Trump warned of the realistic potential for voter fraud, and Twitter has crossed a serious line in harming the American public, impinging on receiving a clear warning from the US president.
The information war kicked into high gear this week, with Twitter continuing to violate its entire legal framework which allows for its existence, but this time it directly effects the protected communications of the US president.
It has engaged in censorship under the precarious auspices of ‘fact checking’, and done so in such a manner that directly impinges upon the both the right of the US president to communicate to the American people, and the right of citizens to receive communications from the president.
This phase of the conflict arose when Trump said that mail-in ballots will be used to increase voter fraud in such a way that places into question the validity of the election to take place in November 2020 for the presidency.
This is backed by historical precedent, as there are hundreds of convictions already on the books. Referring to such is simply speaking the truth. What’s more, expressing what is implicitly an opinion that these are likely to increase in an upcoming election is reasonable. One cannot ‘fact check opinions’ given that it relates to events that have not yet transpired.
Under the false pretext of ‘fact checking’, Twitter has used a highly partisan third-party source to contradict the president’s prognosis and forecast about events Trump believes will come to pass. It has posed one opinion against another, but with a critical and possibly determinant difference.
Using the ‘voice of God’ posture of authority to ‘counter-pose’ misinformation with ‘facts’, Twitter has probably crossed a serious boundary in multiple ways. This will work out badly for Twitter as a legal battle and potential executive order ensue.
FRN has already explained why this election will be unusual, and how the Covid-19 ‘pandemic’ will be used to justify a new political army called ‘Contact Tracers’ to interfere with the election, in at least seven ways we outlined here:
Twitter slapped a warning label on some of Donald Trump’s tweets for the first time ever, cautioning users that the president’s “series of claims about potential voter fraud” were “unsubstantiated,” citing “CNN, Washington Post and others” for authority. “Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud,” Twitter declared.
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
In an accompanying “What you need to know” list, the social media giant added that “fact checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”
This is what the tweet looks like when it is not embedded:
When clicking on ‘Get the facts about mail-in ballots’, we don’t find neutral facts, but a partisan rant saying that the president has lied.
Five Reasons Why Twitter is in Hot Water
1. There have been numerous proven and convicted cases of mail-in voter fraud. These are scattered widely across the country over the past four years, evidence that the absentee ballot system is open to at least some voter manipulation, even as Democrat endorsing pundits insist otherwise.
Data maintained by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank which itself has been the subject of controversy, shows three dozen criminal convictions for absentee ballot fraud over the past four years. Those cases in turn are but a small subset of over 200 convictions for various types of voter fraud the conservative organization says have occurred since 2016.
While these may seem like relatively small-in-scale, and local in nature, there are several critical factors to weigh.
The first being that these are proven cases of voter fraud, where most cases were not pursued by the contending parties. In fact, establishing that voter fraud has taken place where indeed there otherwise exists strong evidence for it, is a difficult hurdle to clear. In short, many cases either go unreported, or if reported, not challenged when rejected at lower levels.
Vote fraud is always very likely to happen given the stakes, and yet also very hard to prove. That’s why preventative emphasis is warranted even when documented cases appear low in number.
That’s precisely the point – fraud is most dangerous because it can so easily be gotten away with.
It’s the mechanisms that prevent vote fraud that are critical, because establishing that it has occurred on a case-by-case basis is an onerous and herculean task.
2. The President was right to say that mail-in ballots have caused voter fraud in the past, whether such levels would ‘make or break’ the outcome of a presidential election is a matter of opinion – speaking about future events always implies that it is an opinion, even if based in facts. But by countering a reasonable opinion with another opinion disguised as the ‘final word’, Twitter has misinformed its readers in such a way that it could be culpable in future litigation surrounding nation-wide vote fraud. What is more, a warning about a potential serious problem on the horizon is a legitimate warning to make, and further, Trump not speaking to this problem would reasonably be construed as failing to inform the public about an upcoming problem.
3. Twitter is a social-media platform, not a publisher. Twitter is the platform, and its millions of users with personal accounts are self-publishers. The entire concept of a platform for self-publishers is what entirely indemnifies Twitter for the responsibilities that come with editing, editorializing, or presenting the views of innumerable Twitter users as the views of Twitter. Facebook, by the way, is also in the same legal mess. Zuckerberg perjured himself before Congress in describing Facebook as a platform, when just previously they had premised an entire legal case around being a publisher.
4. Trump, many months ago, announced that Twitter was the primary platform for communication he used to publish his views to both US citizens, but also to diplomats and world leaders. He has to do this because the legacy media are themselves publishers who are free to distort his message. Consider how serious the misinformation is coming from legacy media, who have created this problem. Regularly the media misinforms the public and important international actors about what Trump has said or intends to do. They frame and phrase their headlines and write-ups as if the president has himself said words which were in fact not said.
This is entirely the problem. In the US there are no laws against ‘fake news’, the Supreme Court has ruled as such, and it is not technically illegal for the media to – even intentionally – misinform or disinform the audience, with some provisos that may also figure into Trump’s pending legal battle against Twitter.
5. Even news media cannot shout ‘fire’ in a movie-house, as the old speech criteria analogy goes, and the inverse is also true: media cannot say there isn’t a fire and in a movie-house and encourage people into the inferno. And therefore even acting as a publisher they may have crossed a major legal boundary in censoring the president’s warning to the public that problems in the upcoming election pose a major threat (a fire) to the constitutional republic.
However the responsibilities and other obligations that a publishing entity has create a whole other list of legal problems for Twitter. MSNBC for example, cannot editorialize (publish) in such a way that promotes terrorism or terrorist groups, or for example, anti-semitism. But Twitter and Facebook regularly allow hate speech, insofar as it has allowed Deep State projects like ISIS and Al Qaeda and White Power groups to maintain accounts, pages, and self-published outlets on the platform. These are ostensibly allowed so that such groups can be ‘monitored’ and controlled.
This is why Trump had effectively ‘nationalized’ or ‘commandeered’ his account, regardless of the game that Twitter wants to play – where it is convenient on Monday to be a publisher, but convenient on Thursday to be a platform.
While a long-term legal battle will likely ensue as a consequence, we may expect in the immediate future that Trump will issue an executive order the further nationalizes his own account.
Election strategy experts have long warned that Trump’s greatest obstacle would be censorship, misinformation and disinformation on social media. Following her defeat in 2016, Clinton began to aggressively pursue a strategy of bringing Twitter, Facebook and Google (YouTube, etc.) in line, towards a single messaging strategy.
To wit, the open, documented, and partisan nature of that campaign could absolutely be a determining factor to Trump’s success in the legal realm. There has been a partisan campaign, manipulating media and also breaking laws about publisher vs platform, to misinform the public and to silence a sitting American president.