President Trump is on the warpath this morning. His latest target? Twitter, and all other social media companies. In an early-morning tweet, Trump decried social media platforms, saying Republicans feel they “totally silence conservatives voices.” He went on to announce that, “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
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….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
The alarming statement comes a day after Twitter fact-checked one of President Trump’s tweets for the first time. In the tweet, Trump claimed, “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 false claims led to the tweet being labeled by Twitter as factually inaccurate, complete with a link directing users where they could get factual information about mail-in voting. You can see Trump’s fact-checked tweet in the screenshot below (the fact-checked labeling will not show up in embeds. The original tweet with the label can be viewed here).
As for Trump’s retaliatory threats today, it’s true that any government can step in to regulate any industry it wants, including the social media industry, provided the government has the votes and public support to pass such regulations. However, with America’s strong constitutional protections, Trump’s threat of closing down social media companies is something radically outside the realm of possibility. Still, at the time of this writing Twitter’s stock is down over 1.5% in pre-market trading.