On Tuesday night, the president accused Twitter of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifiling free speech” for correcting his unsubstantiated claims about mail-in ballots being fraudulent. It should be noted that Twitter is legally allowed to add these sorts of notices to anyone's tweets.
Then, on Wednesday morning, Trump made an additional, similar claim, tweeting, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices.”
While this is the first time Twitter fact-checked Trump, the president has a long history of breaking Twitter’s rules, often without consequences. In 2017, Trump tweeted a thinly-veiled threat toward North Korea, saying “they won't be around much longer!”
Of all the Trump tweets that’ve violated Twitter rules, it’s likely the labels were applied here because they deal with false information about voting, something the company has recently taken a stronger stance on. In April, Twitter rolled out a new reporting tool designed to flag posts that contain misleading information about elections.
Trump’s claims about social media silencing conservative voices are also hard to support. Since taking office, Trump’s own Twitter following has gone from 20 million to 80 million.
And in an April 2019 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse,” Chairman Ted Cruz also admitted that it’s hard to prove this bias.
“Now I will note, much of the argument in this topic is anecdotal. It's based on one example or another example,” Cruz said. “Nobody knows what the raw data is in terms of bias.”
Trump isn’t the only world leader seeing increased speech enforcement from Twitter, either. In March, the platform removed two tweets from Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro for containing misleading information about hydroxychloroquine, and for encouraging an end to social distancing.