Other social media giants are coming under the spotlight after Twitter has finally been pushed to implement its own (critics say, dubious) rules – not to actually remove “problematic” speech by government officials – but to add “fact-checking” labels to it, effectively undermining and invalidating whatever the message may be.
And when it talks “government officials” – Twitter seems to really mean just Donald Trump.
Many factors are contributing to this sudden drive to, in one way or another, undermine the president, or at least cripple his presence and reach on social networks.
It’s easy to think that current social issues linked to police brutality and race might be at the center of it – but the big picture is that of the coronavirus pandemic that brought life, including political campaigning, to a standstill – now coming to an end.
That means the November 2020 US presidential elections are getting closer, and when it comes to attempting to keep Trump in check on the internet, for his opponents – it’s now or never.
And now that Twitter has finally started to deliver, it’s Facebook’s turn to face pressure.
But for the moment at least, Facebook is resisting calls to follow in Twitter’s footsteps and start labeling Trump’s tweets as “fact-checked.”
CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on to say that his gargantuan company is “not an arbiter of truth” – and that Trump’s recent posts around protests and rioting after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the police are “deeply offensive” to him personally – but broke none of Facebook’s rules.
If Facebook did fact-check Trump’s tweets it would be significant as Facebook has already announced that fact-checking a post cuts the chances of people seeing it by 95%.
Zuckerberg has been showing signs of wanting to wash his hands off this type of thing for a while now. And recently, Facebook said it was setting up an Oversight Board.
“Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own,” the announcement said.
This might suggest that, going forward, the giant is looking for ways to delegate responsibility for moderation and censorship of highly sensitive issues from its corporate leadership onto somebody else.
Have your cake, and keep eat it, in other words – and it wouldn’t be the first time Facebook had pulled off this magic trick either.