Update (1400ET): Shares of Twitter are paring earlier gains on Wednesday following a Fox News report that President Trump is moving ahead with his plans to launch a rival social media network.
- TWITTER SELLING OFF TRUMP MOVING AHEAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN
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The list of respectable liberals and progressives who have urged social media giants like Facebook and Twitter to abandon their prohibition of President Trump includes Bill Gates and Bernie Sanders.
Yet, instead of letting up, social media companies - goaded by Democratic lawmakers during the latest in a series of tedious hearings about "hate speech" (aka speech that liberals find politically unpalatable) - are doubling down.
Fox & Friends on Wednesday slammed Facebook after the company removed an interview with Lara Trump and the former president from Facebook and Instagram. Lara Trump, who just joined Fox News as a paid contributor, posted the conversation with her father-in-law to her social media accounts, only to see it abruptly scrubbed due to the ban on content from the president.
F&F host Brian Kilmeade seethed over the removal: "That’s unbelievable," Brian Kilmeade said. "Do you realize he is the former president of the United States? You do an interview with him, and it’s not worthy? It’s not allowed to be on your page? That is incredible."
His co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, took the complaints a step further: "if they can pack the courts, make D.C. and Puerto Rico a state, if they can get all of these illegal immigrants to come in, then they are hoping they will vote for them eventually."
"They can cancel Donald Trump on social media, so that he can’t have a platform and he can’t speak," she continued. "If they can bash our network, then they are on their way to controlling our country. And it’s a scary time. It’s a very scary time, and what is this gonna look like for our kids?"
According to media reports, none of this should have come as a surprise: Trump officials were recently sent an email from a Facebook employee, warning that any content posted on Facebook and Instagram "in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed on our platforms (including new posts with President Trump speaking)."
Here's more on that from Fox News:
A group of Trump officials were sent an email from a Facebook employee, warning that any content posted on Facebook and Instagram "in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed on our platforms (including new posts with President Trump speaking)" and warned that it "will be removed if posted, resulting in additional limitations on accounts that posted it."
"This guidance applies to all campaign accounts and Pages, including Team Trump, other campaign messaging vehicles on our platforms, and former surrogates," the email, posted on Instagram by Trump's son, Eric Trump, stated.
Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley warned in a blog post that FB's censorship of Trump is "an obvious attack on free speech, including political speech". He then offered up this comical scenario to illustrate just how outrageous the ban on Trump can be: "Notably, he could be talking about the Yankees but the posting would be censored because the team was discussed in the voice of Donald Trump. It is not his view but Trump himself that is being canceled by the company. However, presumably, Lara Trump could sit next to Trump and have him whisper his views into her ear. She could then give his views in the voice of Lara rather than Donald Trump."
Turley then pointed to an exchange between two Democratic senators and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to further illustrate his point. At one point, Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked the CEOS "will you commit to the same kind of robust content modification playbook in this coming election, including fact checking, labeling, reducing the spread of misinformation, and other steps, even for politicians in the runoff elections ahead?"
The phrase "robust content modification" might have a certain appeal at a surface level, but beyond that, it's clear what's really going on: "It is censorship. If our representatives are going to crackdown on free speech, they should admit to being advocates for censorship."
All of this should have implications for tech companies and protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act - protections that President Trump sought (unsuccessfully) to remove.
"Big Tech once fashioned itself as the equivalent of the telephone company, and thus sought protections as neutral suppliers of communication forums allowing people to voluntarily associate and interact. It then started to engage in expanding, conflicting acts of censorship. Yet, it still wants to remain protected as if it were neutral despite actively modifying content. We would never tolerate a telephone company operator cutting into a call to say the company did not approve of a statement that was just made, or cutting the line for those who did not voice approved positions."
Just some food for thought...
Trump was banned from Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms after the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots.