Everything is fine as long as there are no brakes on sending a message, no matter how harmful it is. It’s all good as long as social media platforms allow one to make threats as well as toss out lies. It is under these concepts that public figures have built movements and even governments.
Donald Trump is the most representative of these. And while he arrived at the White House according to the United States election process, the construction of his career is surely cemented in the audacity of his provocations, added to the ease with which he shares false news and his agility with accusations and smears.
Trump has made social media his platform. He has issued more notes, decisions and threats in the 240 characters allowed per tweet than in his encounters with the press. These are not only about his agenda, but are also memes and mockery of his opponents, which also strengthen his political muscle.
The nature of social media has allowed Trump, for example, to tell an average of 16 lies or confusing messages each day on Twitter. He has told some 18,000 lies since he became the president of the U.S., according to The Washington Post. Each one of these has been refuted with facts and by rigorous journalism.
But Trump is not the only one on Twitter. More that 340 million active users on Twitter each month have the same opportunity to send a message. Confronted with these dangers and the consequences so far, companies have sought ways to construct barriers that do not threaten freedom of expression but resolve these gaps.
All this leads up to the order that Trump signed requesting that the Federal Trade Commission investigate whether the government can regulate social media. This is a decision that will prove difficult to act on, but it is clearly a political move. He knows this issue will easily hit a brick wall, but it is a political play that opens a front with his followers, those who run out to protest against the quarantine because they see him out golfing during the long national holiday weekend.
Trump is after revenge, not only for the action Twitter took, but for the ridicule. He is turning social media into the enemy because they dare to cast doubt on the information he shares, just as they do with any other user.
People took his threat to delete his accounts more as relief than as a warning and for this reason, he opted for the executive order. Even if it were never finally enacted, the order would be a self-inflicted wound that he wishes to inflict so an election can heal it. The pandemic put the brakes on his campaign plans that include rallies with their corrosive and provocative speeches, so he has chosen to make social media his platform on which he can defend his right to keep on lying and, also make his persecutor.
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