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WikiPedia Founder: Twitter Would Have Banned Donald Trump and Elon Musk if Not for Their Status

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November 27, 2019

Donald Trump has long been criticised for his incendiary rhetoric, including a tweet telling four congresswomen of colour to “go back” to their “broken and crime-infested places”. Twitter says it will de-list, but not remove, such tweets in the interest of public conversation.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has accused Twitter of holding high-profile users to a different standard than others – saying that US President Donald Trump should’ve been banned from the platform “a long time ago.”

“A lot of stuff he says would not violate the terms of service of Twitter — he’s a blowhard and he says false things,” Wales said of Donald Trump, as quoted by Politico. “But he’s attacked people in ways that other people couldn’t get away with. I mean they’ve made it very clear that they are applying the rules differently.”

Wales made the comments when speaking at the Financial Times’ Future of News conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday, where he was promoting WT:Social, his recently-launched social media site which runs off of donations, rather than advertising.

A fact-check by The Washington Post has found that Trump had made “13,435 false or misleading claims” in power by 9 October. Nearly one-fifth of those claims is said to have come from his Twitter account. Trump has also been accused of instigating hatred for some of his tweets regarding race and immigration, and attacks on his political opponents like Elijah Cummings.

Jimmy Wales also cited Tesla boss Elon Musk as the example of Twitter’s perceived bias. Musk is currently fighting a defamation case against a British rescue diver, whom he called “pedo guy” in an online spat last summer. In a separate tweet, he said he could “bet ya a signed dollar” that this allegation was true. He now argues that his tweets should not be taken seriously.

“Most people would have been blocked for that,” Wales noted, suggesting that Musk got away with it because he generates a lot of page views and ad revenue.

He added: “I know the people at Twitter … and I don’t think that they are bad people, but I think their business model is at odds with doing the right thing.”

In light of the controversy surrounding Facebook’s no-censorship stand on politiciansand political advertising, Twitter said last month it would exclude paid-for political ads.

The platform also states that even world leaders are not entirely above its rules. If a politician is promoting terrorism or threatening someone with violence in a tweet, it would be deleted.

However, Twitter said it would make exceptions for the tweets that violate its standards but are deemed to have some “public interest value”. In June, the company announced that it would start slapping a notice on such tweets, if they are 1) written by elected and government officials 2) or candidates or nominees for a government office 3) who have more than 100,000 followers.

This article was posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 6:35 am

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