Washington, United States.
The social networks, the target of criticism from multiple fronts, are facing a new dilemma: yield to the claims of the president Donald trump, which threatens to close them, or manage political disinformation during the electoral campaign in United States.
Until now, the platforms have avoided directly confronting the fickle leader in moderating false or dangerous content, but Twitter he threw the first stone.
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On Tuesday, two tweets from Donald trump, in which he gives his opinion on the system of voting by mail and says among other things that they will give “fraudulent” electoral results, appeared for the first time accompanied by an icon with an exclamation point and a link labeled “Get the facts about epistolary voting “(” Get the facts about mail-in ballots “).
The response of the White House tenant was immediate. Trump, who maintains prolific activity on that network, where he is followed by some 80 million users, accused the company of “interfering in the 2020 presidential election”, and threatened to “strongly regulate” and even “close” these virtual forums .
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Their reaction underscores the dilemma facing the companies behind these platforms, said Steven Livingston, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University.
The Trump attacks and his followers “put too much pressure” on Twittersaid the expert. “They are pale just thinking about taking a next step” to limit disinformation, he added.
Even when Twitter Trying to encourage a “healthy conversation” by filtering false or harmful content, for Livingston the economic model that supports social networks seems to suggest otherwise.
“The platforms know very well that they accentuate extremism,” he said. “Extremism draws attention and allows them to sell more ads, and that is the goal of the game.”
Draw a limit
Twitter kept other tweets posted without warning signs Trump, also published Tuesday, in which the president alludes to an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory to discredit a media personality who has criticized him in the past.
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“It was the right decision,” said Daniel Kreiss, a professor at the University of North Carolina.
The researcher, specialized in information technology and public life, assured that the platform is interested in applying its rules on disinformation but without risking getting his feet wet in the dark and turbulent waters of politics.
“Twitter is drawing a line to protect the integrity of the elections,” said Kreiss.
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By determining that the platform cannot be used in a whimsical way, Twitter has “established clear values and a transparent policy,” said the expert.
This measured approach by Twitter will allow the company to go through the electoral campaign for the November presidential elections without being caught up in the political debate.
However, the academic estimated, “they will receive criticism for any direction they take.”
This confrontation has given the president and his allies a new opportunity to complain about an alleged bias of the technological giants against the conservatives, despite the extensive and masterful use that these sectors make of these platforms.
If not false, is it true?
Dissemination of disinformation is a key issue for Facebook and other social media ever since it was reported that the campaigns for both the 2016 US election and the Brexit referendum were intervened by Russian intelligence services.
These companies adopted rhetoric to fight head-on against the disclosure of false information, but have received criticism and accusations of double discourse.
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Facebook, in particular, made the decision not to third-party verify the sayings of political personalities on its platform.
But Trump’s comments on the epistolary vote, according to Kreiss, have probably sounded an alarm in the company of Mark Zuckerberg, because in theory that social network does not allow the publication of erroneous information about electoral acts, such as false dates or the way in which vote.
“It is an ultranecessary first step,” Michelle Amazeen, a professor of political communication at Boston University, said of Twitter’s move to alert on the veracity of Trump’s tweets.
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However, he does not believe that it will affect an improvement in the quality of public debate in the United States.
“Users of TwitterNow, are you going to believe that if they are not tagged, Trump They are right? Research suggests they will believe it. “
In terms of information management, both Twitter and most of the main social networks are far from the standards applied by the main press.
“Twitter is not a reliable source of legitimate news,” said the expert. “Studies show that people who rely on social media for news are more likely to be misinformed than those who rely on traditional sources.”