Twitter finally takes a step to counter Trump's online disinformation

Twitter finally takes a step to counter Trump's online disinformation
President Donald Trump talks on the phone aboard Air Force One during a flight to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address a joint gathering of House and Senate Republicans, Thursday, January 26, 2017. This was the President’s first Trip aboard Air Force One. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Twitter finally took a minor step to address the deluge of distortions, lies, and blatant disinformation flowing from President Donald Trump's account.

Now, following a pair of Trump's bogus tweets sent Tuesday morning spreading lies about mail-in voting, Twitter has inserted an alert telling readers to "Get the facts about mail-in ballots" as seen below:

Clicking the link brings readers to a page that addressed Trump's falsehoods. It explained:

On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.

It continued:

- Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to "a Rigged Election." However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.

- Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to "anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there." In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.

- Though Trump targeted California, mail-in ballots are already used in some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska.

While it's important to rebut Trump's attempt to manipulate the election and mislead the population about the integrity of American democracy, it's easy to see how this solution from Twitter will raise further problems.

Conservatives will undoubtedly be outraged by the fact-check. Given how social media outlets have caved to faux and unjustified conservative outrage in the past, it's easy to imagine that Twitter will respond poorly to these attacks.

It also creates the problem that the rest of Trump's Twitter feed remains littered with disinformation and lies, including smears about President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden and a horrendous conspiracy theory insinuating baselessly that former Rep. Joe Scarborough murdered a congressional staffer. Correcting some lies and not others could create the appearance that Twitter is putting its seal of approval on misinformation.

Some, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), have advocated that Twitter ban Trump completely because of his abuse of the platform. Ultimately, someone like Trump leaves companies like Twitter in an incredibly difficult, perhaps impossible, situation. The best solution is to get reckless spreaders of disinformation out of power.

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