Last week, President Trump announced he was going to crack down on social media after Twitter had the audacity to fact-check a couple of his tweets. Actually, they didn’t exactly fact-check him — they merely linked to a couple of sites where his Twitter followers could do the fact-checking themselves.
Clearly Twitter does not realize that we live in a fact-averse society. Truth is so last century. If you believe everything you read on Twitter, in a couple of hours you’ll be yelling, “There is no way on God’s flat Earth that I’m taking a vaccine made in the basement of Killary’s Chinese pizza joint basement right beside the child sex ring funded by Bill Gates. Now hand me some Lysol and a flashlight so I can kill this corona myself!”
The primary concern of the president and his followers is that conservative views, they believe, are suppressed by social media platforms, which they claim also fact-check conservatives at a higher rate while letting liberals go completely unchecked with such controversial ideas as “racism is bad.”
I’m not much for Twitter, but I follow a few folks such as President Trump and should-be president Jimmy Buffett just in case something very important happens in 280 characters or less. I’m still waiting.
Facebook at least allows a little more room for context as it permits extensive, wordy diatribes, although you have to hit the “read more” link to see long passages — or as Facebook users actually refer to the “read more” link, “never mind.”
One of the byproducts of having grown up a white guy with many black friends in a red state and then going on to work in journalism with many folks from blue and purple states and then working in the nonprofit business with tons of folks with hearts of gold is that I’ve wound up with a rainbow of Facebook friends. They are divided almost exactly 50/50 between conservatives and liberals — along with a weirdo centrist or two. (Pick a side, Earl!) I assure you that in my Facebook feed, at least, conservative views are getting through just fine. I like hearing from both sides. Wisdom rarely happens in a bubble, which is one factor in Americans’ growing inability to reason.
I consider myself an independent, but I like my Republican friends and I like my Democrat friends, and I certainly don’t agree with the president’s retweet last week of a video espousing a deep-thinker’s refrain that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” I know Mr. Trump probably didn’t watch the video long enough to know exactly what was in there (much like the way he praises and promotes books he hasn’t read), so he can plead ignorance. It’s probably a good idea, though, to not Tweet things you aren’t certain about or videos featuring raging lunatics. Mistakes are bound to happen somewhere around tweet No. 147 of the day, I guess. If I had time for that much Tweeting and Facebooking, I might have a better understanding of how you can fall prey to unintentionally spreading propaganda.
Of course, the president has lodged his most vocal condemnations of Twitter on — wait for it — Twitter. I’d venture to say that Twitter and CNN are the two non-Russian entities most responsible for Trump’s election in 2016. CNN devoted 23 hours and 59 minutes a day in 2016 to talking about the president and his Tweets. I think that remaining minute was a commercial for the guy who goes around spraying Flex Seal on screen doors and then taking them out on lakes for some strange reason.
I don’t follow Joe Biden on Twitter, but I assume he’s on it and other hip new platforms like the telegraph. I’d follow him on Twitter, but I doubt he has enough characters left to make valid points after typing “uh” and “um” 50 times.
If I were Twitter, though, I wouldn’t worry about censoring conservatives or liberals or trying to point users toward facts on its platform. Fact-finding is not an exact science. And facts are not synonymous with truths. Facts are statements or data that can be proven true or false. Truths, on the other hand, are eternal, undeniable concepts — such as that slaw never belongs on a hot dog. It’s right there in the Bible.
And that’s a fact.