On Tuesday, Twitter took the unprecedented step of adding an extremely biased “fact-check” to President Donald Trump’s tweets about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-Calif.) vote-by-mail scheme. Twitter’s attack on Trump’s speech led the president to sign an executive order on Thursday, aiming to restrict Big Tech censorship. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Twitter didn’t go far enough.
“Yes, we like Twitter to put up their fact-check of the president, but it seems to be very selective,” Pelosi said at a press conference on Thursday. She slammed Twitter for not taking down Trump’s tweets spreading the conspiracy theory that Rep. Joe Scarborough murdered a female staffer in his office, even after the woman’s widower asked Twitter to remove Trump’s tweets.
“Facebook, all of them, they’re all about making money. Their business model is to make money at the expense of the truth and the facts that they know,” Pelosi added.
She condemned Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who responded to Twitter’s “fact-check” by insisting that social media companies should not be “the arbiter of truth.”
“They pander to the White House, you see what Facebook’s Zuckerberg is saying today about all of this. Tax cuts, no regulation, ‘our business model is to misrepresent the facts and to be a platform to do that and try to hide under freedom of speech,'” she argued. “Which is, of course, a complete violation of everything freedom of speech stands for.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg "panders" to the White House to avoid taxes and regulations, and suggests Pres. Trump's expected executive order targeting social media platforms may be a case of "no honor among thieves." https://t.co/TQyMmY8yNZ pic.twitter.com/gpGnquKZIu
— ABC News (@ABC) May 28, 2020
Pelosi’s condemnation of special favors aside, it is absolutely not a “complete violation of everything freedom of speech stands for” to allow users to post their opinions even when those opinions seem false to the authorities at Twitter and Facebook. While Big Tech companies are not required to host everyone’s opinions under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, they best serve as conduits for discussion by allowing as wide an array of opinions as possible, while excluding certain forms of speech such as direct threats of violence.
Contrary to Pelosi’s suggestion that Twitter’s “fact-check” was correct, there are many reasons to question the vote-by-mail practices pushed by Democrats and far-left foundations during the coronavirus crisis.
Indeed, mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic has created situations ripe for abuse. Clark County, Nev., is administering the state’s first all-mail primary. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that evidence of ballots “tossed in trash cans and littering apartment mailbox areas” emerged within the first week of voting.
Similar problems reportedly took place in Paterson, New Jersey, in the May 12 election for Second Ward City Council. More than 800 mail-in ballots were set aside due to suspicion that they were gathered illegally. In one case, 366 ballots were picked up from the same mailbox.
“Democrats pushed these changes long before COVID-19 because they believe that the resulting free-for-all will help their electoral prospects. Unable to persuade legislatures to adopt these changes, Democrats have turned to the courts, arguing that COVID-19 means that their preferred changes are now mandated by the Constitution,” the California GOP alleges in its lawsuit. “But COVID-19 does not warrant throwing out longstanding safeguards that protect the integrity of elections. In fact, it makes those safeguards more important.”
Pelosi herself smuggled in vote-by-mail election overhauls into coronavirus relief bills in March and again in May, as Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said the crisis was “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
Twitter’s “fact-check” insisted that Trump’s concerns about vote-by-mail schemes were flat-out wrong, citing news reports and experts arguing that case while ignoring news reports and other experts that echoed Trump’s concerns. In other words, Twitter effectively substituted its pro-vote-by-mail opinion for Trump’s opposite opinion, but dressed up its opinion as “the facts.”
Big Tech companies should enjoy legal immunity for the content they host, but actions like this are an egregious betrayal of the basis for which that legal immunity exists.
Pelosi’s insistence that Twitter did not go far enough is damning. Not only did she endorse a social media platform engaging in a form of soft censorship, but she also insisted that Big Tech should go even further to fight Democrats’ battles for them.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.