Trump And Pompeo Contradict In Tweets About Shutting Down, Censoring, Social Media

U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contradicted one another on Twitter Wednesday, in alternating tweets. Trump warned that the government would shut down social media platforms over partisan views. Pompeo tweeted a few hours later to say that the government opposes shutting down social media or engaging in censorship thereof. An hour later, Trump was back to threaten “big action” against Twitter and others.

Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo disagree on Twitter
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

On Tuesday Trump tweeted, asserting that allowing voters to mail their ballots for the 2020 Presidential election would guarantee voter fraud. Twitter, for the first time in the platform’s history, added a disclaimer to his tweet, and a link to accurate information about voting.

Trump responded Wednesday morning by saying that social media platforms are censoring Republicans, and that he’s considering shutting down or regulating the platforms in order to control this.

Pompeo responded two hours later with a tweet expressing support of the Freedom Online Coalition. That organization had issued a statement (read in full here) on any kind of censorship of social media and internet censorship, specifically including shutting down or monitoring social media.

FOC expresses concern about the human rights implications of certain measures introduced by governments in response to the COVID-19 crisis, such as the use of arbitrary or unlawful surveillance practices, network shutdowns and censorship. FOC calls upon governments worldwide to refrain from adopting or implementing laws and policies that may negatively affect the enjoyment of human rights, to promote an enabling environment for free expression and access to information, and take appropriate action to address Internet shutdowns, digital divides and spread of disinformation online.

Tagging the Freedom Online Coalition, Pompeo tweeted to say that the U.S. will not allow government-imposed shutdowns and censorship.

Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Robert A. Destro, also tweeted, shortly after Trump’s initial threat, warning that for the U.S. government to impose shutdowns or content regulation would be “inconsistent with human rights law.”

Pompeo’s tweet wasn’t up for a full hour before Trump again tweeted about social media networks, implying some unspecified misdeeds on Twitter’s part, and promising “big action.”

Trump’s off-the-cuff warnings aside, none of his tweets have been deleted or forbidden by the social media platform to date, or otherwise limited his free expression on their site. The fact-check added to his tweet on Tuesday constitutes the first and only time that Trump’s tweets have been in any way appended, and they have never been altered or censored.

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