You Can’t Deplatform The President Of The United States

President Donald Trump’s latest barrage of conspiratorial accusations and lies, designed to undermine the nation’s democratic elections, has induced new calls for his removal from his favorite social media platform: Twitter.

“At what point is @Twitter a part of this?” MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski tweeted at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey after Trump accused her husband and co-host Joe Scarborough of murder. “TAKE DOWN TRUMP’s ACCOUNT— the world would be safer.” (Trump first falsely insinuated that Scarborough committed murder in November 2017.)

Brzezinski wasn’t alone in calling for Dorsey to stop Trump’s belligerent false accusations of murder. T.J. Klausutis similarly pleaded in a letter to Dorsey to, at the very least, remove the president’s false tweets slandering his deceased wife, Lori Klausutis, whom the president falsely accuses Scarborough of having an affair with before murdering.

“I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain,” Klausutis wrote to Dorsey.

The president is undoubtedly cruel and vicious in his slander of a deceased woman and her widowed husband, both private citizens, as well as in his slander of public figure Scarborough. He falsely tweeted that Klausutis’ death is a “Cold Case” (it is not) and had no basis for claiming she had “an affair” with Scarborough.

But removing Trump’s Twitter account, an act called deplatforming, serves no ultimate purpose.

Social media platforms are designed to be addictive attention machines. This can skew them to favor outrageous statements, hyperbole and conspiracy theories. Demagogic conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis have successfully gamed these platforms in the middle of the last decade to gain attention, silence opponents and influence public discourse. Calls to ban or deplatform those groups and individuals from digital platforms have increased as their behavior becomes more toxic.

Deplatforming succeeded in diminishing the fame of right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos after he instigated the online harassment and hacking of comedian Leslie Jones. It has also mitigated the reach of conspiracy agitator Alex Jones after his admittedly false claims that the mass killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School was faked.

But deplatforming would have no such impact when applied to the president of the United States. The office itself is arguably the most powerful platform in the world. The president’s every statement is effectively newsworthy. Trump is followed by a press pool almost everywhere he goes. He can summon attention at any moment by stepping before a microphone. You can’t deplatform the president, as journalist Adam Serwer noted.

If Twitter deplatformed Trump, he could simply post his accusations on Facebook or Instagram. If Facebook kicked him off its platform, he could move to YouTube or TikTok. He could also just call in to “Fox & Friends,” appear at a press conference, or otherwise issue statements that the press will cover because he is the president of the United States.

It is not as though Trump is afraid of making the same baseless accusations live in front of a microphone. 

Trump accused Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), of helping Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate former President John F. Kennedy during a phone interview on Fox News. In a 2016 interview with The Washington Post, Trump insinuated that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton murdered former Clinton administration official Vince Foster, who died by suicide in 1993. 

Twitter has no plans to remove Trump from its platform. The social media company issued a statement in 2018 claiming that it would not remove the accounts or tweets of “world leaders” because such a move “would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.” (Twitter has, however, deleted tweets by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.)

While Twitter may not delete Trump’s tweets or deplatform him from the site, the company did take its first step in correcting false information Trump disseminated on Wednesday. 

Along with lobbing murder accusations, Trump has tweeted false allegations about casting ballots by mail during the viral pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans. He claimed, without evidence, that such efforts would be rife with crime and fraud, and falsely claimed that California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) planned to mail ballots to everyone living in California, rather than only to active registered voters.

These comments, designed to cast doubt on the nation’s democratic elections, led Twitter to do something it had never done before: append a fact-check link to the president’s tweets that reads, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” The president has since stated his intention to use the federal government to regulate or shutter Twitter.

In the end, the problem here is not that Trump is on Twitter. It’s that he was elected president. And he will not lose that platform, even if he’s removed from office or defeated for reelection. This is the consequence of giving the most powerful platform in the world to a man like Trump. And it’s too late to take it back.

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Twitter founder gives $5M for coronavirus relief, UBI promotion

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Twitter founder Jack Dorsey donated $5 million on Wednesday to former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang's nonprofit aimed at promoting Universal Basic Income policy.

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The donation is part of Dorsey's commitment to give $1 billion, or 28 percent of his net worth, to coronavirus relief, education for women and basic income experimentation through his company called Start Small. Humanity Forward is giving one-time, and recurring, basic income payments to people and families who stand to be most affected by the coronavirus crisis, according to its website.

Dorsey announced the donation on a Wednesday episode of Yang's podcast, "Yang Speaks."

"We're doing $5 million for Humanity Forward, and…I really appreciate who you are, first and foremost, but also what you're doing," Dorsey said. "I think this idea is long overdue, and I think the only way that we can change policy is by showing case studies of why this works."

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The contribution will go toward Humanity Forward's COVID-19 assistance program in the form of 20,000 individual micro-grants worth $250 each to those affected by the crisis.

Yang thanked the Twitter founder on his podcast and in a press release published Thursday.

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"Not only will Jack’s donation directly impact tens of thousands of people in need during the current economic downturn, it will help Humanity Forward and our movement continue to make a case for [UBI] in the United States. We know UBI for every American is possible, and this $5 million from Start Small is going to help demonstrate what is possible for families across the country," Yang said in a statement.

Dorsey's original $1 billion donation is worth $1.5 billion after he put it into the market and into people's hands, he said on the podcast.

"We did move $200 billion into the [donor advised fund], and they sold it on the market, and we now have $200 million in cash to work with. We've now granted over $86 million of the $200 [million] so far," Dorsey said. He added that only he and his assistant are in charge of moving the funds in an effort to keep the operation small.

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He and Yang went on to discuss their mutual belief that UBI will shape Americans' trust in government and help the overall economy.

"You know, Jack, I believe that [UBI] is essential to a restoration of trust," Yang said. "If society actually invests in you in a real way and says, 'Hey, look, here's money,' then you actually become more trusting and optimistic, where you're like, 'OK. You actually do value me, care about me, you'll invest in me and my future, you'll invest in my kids and my future.' "

Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

People can't believe it when they receive money without any strings, the same way Americans were surprised when the Trump administration delivered stimulus checks worth $1,200 to every American as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, he said.

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"No one believed it until it was in their account," Yang said. "There's so much built-up distrust and skepticism that when you actually get that money, it diffuses it."

Dorsey said he is happy to give away some of his wealth, saying that his conception of money has changed over time and he has discovered how much of a difference a little extra cash can make in a person's life.

"Part of gratitude is not just saying, 'I'm grateful,' but actually doing it," he said.

While the idea of universal basic income may seem radical to some, the concept is becoming a more widely accepted idea among U.S. politicians and citizens, particularly after Yang gained popularity as a presidential candidate and campaigned on the controversial idea.

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Coronavirus prompts Twitter to allow employees to work from home 'forever'

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When Twitter reopens its offices starting around September, its employees can decide whether they want to return or continue working from home "forever," the company confirmed to FOX Business on Tuesday.

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The news comes as the country's biggest tech giants extend their work-from- home policies amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some companies like Facebook and Google making work-from-home optional until next year.

"We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere," a Twitter spokesperson said. "The past few months have proven we can make that work."

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The spokesperson added that the company's employees "are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and [if] they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen." If employees choose to return to the office when the company feels it is safe, they will be allowed to do so "with some additional precautions."

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gave the news to employees in an email obtained by Buzzfeed on Monday, saying they would be given the option to work from home permanently if they want to.

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The spokesperson said it would likely not be reopening its offices until September with a few exceptions, and environments will likely be somewhat different than before COVID-19 due to extra safety precautions to avoid the spread of germs. Additionally, the company has cut off all business travel before September with very few exceptions and there will be no in-person meetings until 2021.

A sign outside of the Twitter office building in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

"We’re proud of the early action we took to protect the health of our employees and our communities. That will remain our top priority as we work through the unknowns of the coming months," the spokesperson said.

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A number of other tech giants have updated work-from-home policies.

Amazon announced its staffers could continue to do so through Oct. 2 if their jobs allow them. Microsoft also confirmed last week that "working from home will remain optional through October unless employees are in an essential role or local authorities mandate otherwise."

Tesla, on the other hand, is restarting his California assembly plant despite not receiving approval from local government officials, highlighting different companies' responses to state shut-down laws.

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Trump’s Bonkers New Coronavirus Comments Get The Treatment On Twitter

President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that disinfectant and light could be potential treatments for the coronavirus infection that has so far claimed nearly 50,000 American lives. 

Experts, including those within his own administration, immediately warned against taking such a path.

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning,” Trump said. “Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, first defended Trump’s “natural question” about the use of light to treat the disease. 

But he also warned against using disinfectant.

“I certainly wouldn’t recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant,” he said on CNN. 

Trump’s comments caused terms such as #Lysol, #Clorox and #TidePods, among others, to trend on Twitter as users of the social network reacted in disbelief:

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Trump Attacks Hospitals As Insatiable ‘Complainers’ Amid Crisis

President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized states and hospitals for requesting medical supplies to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, calling them “complainers” that should have stocked up on supplies “long before this crisis hit.”

“Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied,” Trump wrote in one of two tweets scolding states and health facilities that he claimed have already received “massive amounts of medical supplies” from the federal government. 

The insults from Trump, who downplayed the pandemic for weeks before acknowledging the scope of the crisis in recent days, came after the nation’s top infectious disease expert said as many as 200,000 people in the U.S. may die from the virus. As of Thursday, there were more than 216,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and 5,100 deaths.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags in anticipation that funeral homes will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks.

Officials in hard-hit regions have been pleading with Trump’s government for weeks to send help and medical resources, including ventilators, masks and other personal protective equipment.

New York state, where the coronavirus death toll doubled in 72 hours to more than 1,900 on Wednesday, has predicted a major shortfall of supplies. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the city needs 3.3 million N95 masks, 2.1 million surgical masks, 100,000 isolation gowns and 400 ventilators by Sunday to meet a surge of cases anticipated early next week.

Trump, who has praised himself over his handling of the outbreak amid widespread criticism of his government’s haphazard response, has repeatedly brushed off reports that hospitals and other medical providers are experiencing a shortage of tests, ventilators and personal protective equipment for workers. He has also insisted that it’s the responsibility of state governments to find their own solutions.

“The federal government’s not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk. We’ll help out wherever we can,” the president said at a news conference in March.

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