Trump won't stop spreading ridiculous lies about the election on social media
But Republicans are accusing Silicon Valley tech giants of ‘silencing’ him.
As the election draws closer, Donald Trump’s unapologetic spread of voting disinformation on social media has only escalated.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted a claim that “CAN I CHANGE MY VOTE?” was “Strongly Trending (Google) since immediately after the second debate.”
“This refers changing it to me,” he wrote. “The answer in most states is YES. Go do it. Most important Election of your life!”
The claim was false, as the phrase was not listed on Google’s top trending tweets the day of the debate.
But even more troubling was the wildly inaccurate claim that “most states” have a mechanism for changing one’s early vote.
Almost no states provide such a mechanism. In those that do, such as Michigan, a voter who has previously requested an absentee ballot can request a new mail-in ballot or show up to vote in person, according to Vox.
Also on Tuesday, Facebook removed a slew of ads from the Trump campaign containing the sentence “Election Day is Today.” The ads were possibly meant to run on Nov. 3, but the campaign placed them this week in violation of Facebook’s rules, which were changed earlier this year to stipulate that it wouldn’t place any new campaign ads the week prior to the election.
“As we made clear in our public communications and directly to campaigns, we prohibit ads that say ‘Vote Today’ without additional context or clarity,” Facebook said in a statement to USA Today.
Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, declared the removal of the misleading ads “election interference at the hands of the Silicon Valley Mafia.”
“It is dangerous for our democracy,” she added.
The Trump campaign itself has been spreading disinformation about voting for months.
In late September, Trump posted on his Facebook page the false claim that mail-in ballots could not accurately be counted.
Facebook did not remove the post; it fact-checked the White House occupant with a label reassuring voters of the “long history of trustworthiness” of mail-in and absentee voting.
Shortly thereafter, a letter from the Biden campaign urged Facebook to combat Trump’s spread of false election information.
The social media platform then banned ads that delegitimized the election process, made false claims of victory in an election before all ballots were in, or spread false election claims.
According to NBC, the first time Twitter fact-checked Trump’s election falsehoods was in May, when he claimed that most mail-in-ballots would be “illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
But as recently as Monday, Trump was tweeting election lies about mail-in ballots having “big problems” and “discrepancies,” earning him yet another Twitter label disputing his claim and highlighting its misleading nature.
Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College, says that the misinformation and lies about voting Trump is spreading are a “democratic emergency.” “The president is saying this mere weeks before an election that we’re counting on him to accept the results of. It does not get any more real or serious than this. My colleagues who study democratic erosion in other countries are terrified of what they’re seeing,” he warned.
Meanwhile, during a hearing today of the Senate Commerce Committee with the heads of Google, Twitter, and Facebook, Republican senators reacted to social media platforms flagging misinformation spread by Republican campaigns and candidates by slamming the tech giants with accusations of censoring conservatives — in particular Trump.
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi accused Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey of censoring the White House occupant but not leaders of oppressive foreign regimes.
“Mr. Dorsey, your platform allows foreign dictators to post propaganda, typically without restriction, yet you typically restrict the president of the United States,” Wicker said.
And Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado objected to what he saw as the suppression of free speech at the hands of Big Tech: “I don’t like the idea of unelected elites in San Francisco or Silicon Valley deciding whether my speech is permissible on their platform.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas railed at Dorsey for his supposed bias: “Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC silencing news to the contrary of your political beliefs?”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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