- Twitter slapped President Donald Trump with a fact check warning on Tuesday after he falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.
- This is the first time Twitter has labeled a tweet from the president with a warning, despite facing pressure to do so for years.
- By Wednesday morning, Trump threatened to “close down” Twitter and other social media sites, though it is unclear how he would involve the federal government or if this is simply meant to put pressure on the platform.
Twitter Slaps Trump With Fact-Check Warning
President Donald Trump is threatening to involve the federal government and potentially “close down” social media sites like Twitter after the platform issued a fact-check label on a post he made regarding mail-in voting.
While Twitter has been increasing its usage of fact-check warnings ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, this is the first time Twitter has directly labeled a tweet from the president.
“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Trump said in the first of two tweets on Tuesday. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..”
“….living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one,” he continued in the second tweet. “That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”
Near the bottom of both of those tweets, Twitter has issued the hyperlinked warning: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” Clicking that link redirects users to a page featuring a series of related articles from outlets like CNN, The Hill, and The Washington Post.
Additionally, in a bulleted section above that, Twitter issued several statements highlighting why it decided to include the warning:
- “Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to ‘a Rigged Election.’ However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”
- “Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to ‘anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.’ In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.”
- “Five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting, according to NBC News.”
While it’s nothing new to see the president making claims that mail-in voting is going to lead to voter fraud (even though experts say voter fraud is incredibly rare), Twitter’s move represents a major new step for the platform. For years, it has faced criticism over how to handle Trump’s tweets.
In the past, Twitter argued that users would jump into the debate and expose false information themselves; however, it has recently increased its steps to outright label misleading or false content.
In March, the Trump campaign posted an out-of-context clip of Joe Biden, which Twitter labeled as “manipulated media.”
Notably, Trump posted the exact same content on Facebook, but Facebook has said it doesn’t plan to label or remove the post.
“We believe that people should be able to have a robust debate about the electoral process, which is why we have crafted our policies to focus on misrepresentations that would interfere with the vote,” a spokesperson said, echoing Twitter’s previous reasoning for not implementing fact-checking.
Trump Rails Against Twitter for Fact-Checking Him
Unsurprisingly, Trump was less than thrilled with Twitter’s fact check.
Tuesday afternoon, Trump accused the platform of interfering in the 2020 Presidential elections, going on to criticize it by saying, “….Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”
Trump stepped up his threat Wednesday morning by saying he planned to either strongly regulate” or “close down” not only Twitter but social media platforms as a whole.
“Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct,” Trump added a few hours later. “Big action to follow!”
Currently, it’s unknown specifically how Trump would want the federal government to crack down on Twitter. It’s also unclear if this was nothing more than an empty threat meant to pressure Twitter and other social media platforms to back off. In fact, such threats aren’t completely unknown for Trump to make.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump reportedly worked to take action against social media platforms by floating the idea of forming a panel to review complaints of anti-conservative bias.
As far as Twitter’s response to Trump’s backlash, a spokesperson for the company has said in a statement to a number of media outlets that Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”
Twitter Doesn’t Plan to Censor the Scarborough Tweets
While Twitter issued a warning on Trump’s mail-in voting tweets, it has refused to remove tweets Trump has made promoting a false conspiracy theory.
Those tweets involve Lori Klausutis, a woman who died in 2001 from complications of an undiagnosed heart condition while working for then-Representative Joe Scarborough. In those tweets, Trump has suggested Scarborough was behind her death.
On Tuesday, a letter from Klausutis’ widower went public. In it, he urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delete Trump’s tweets about her, calling them “horrifying lies.”
Publicly, Twitter has told CNN Business that it doesn’t plan to take action against the Scarborough tweets; however, according to an anonymous source who spoke to The Washington Post, Twitter is debating whether to take action on them.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Fox Business)
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.