The price of Twitter’s ‘fact-check’ on President Trumpby Post Editorial Board
After President Trump’s fevered conspiracy tweets about Joe Scarborough’s former intern Lori Klausutis, her widower, T.J. Klausutis, begged the company to delete them. It was a heartbreaking plea (one that Trump himself should listen to), but CEO Jack Dorsey made the right call. The tweets were a living record of the nation’s president, and the company wasn’t going to take them down.
But then, later on Tuesday, Twitter decided on what is considered a compromise. It would flag Trump’s tweets for “misinformation,” beginning with his rants against mail-in voting.
Dorsey should have stuck to his hands-off approach.
This isn’t a free-speech issue, as Trump claimed last night. Twitter is a private company and can decide what’s published on its platform. But Dorsey understands that Twitter is documenting history here. If he bans Trump, he’s making a political statement — not providing the neutral forum for ideas that the company invented.
But now Dorsey walked into the trap he was trying to avoid. What will be labeled misinformation? Will liberals, too, get warning labels? Who decides? Will every user be read and reviewed, or just Trump?
Already, one sees that the “fact-checking” services of social-media giants such as Facebook are more about stifling the conversation than the truth. One day’s conspiracy theory can turn into another day’s investigative report, and vice versa. Most of all, it’s a patronizing, liberal form of engineering — deciding that readers can’t judge for themselves.
Twitter already has a robust form of “fact-checking”: All the people who comment on a post, retweet a post, rebut, argue and insult. Let them handle it, Jack.