This week, for the first time, Twitter “fact-checked” one of President Trump’s opinions and redirected users to coverage from that paragon of fairness and objectivity, CNN (don’t laugh).
Twitter announced the introduction of the new feature earlier this month. The goal, two workers wrote, is to “make it easy to find credible information” and to stanch the flow of “misleading content.”
But I wonder: Will the platform also append “fact-check” labels and links to tweets from prominent liberals that also turned out to be “misleading” or outright false?
Start with a 2017 tweet from CNN contributor Ana Navarro claiming that an “Ivanka Fund got $100 million pledge from the Saudis and UAE.”
The truth: The cash went to a World Bank initiative for female entrepreneurs. Navarro’s tweet garnered more than 43,000 retweets.
Or how about a 2019 tweet from actress Nancy Lee Grahn that featured photos of migrant children at a border detention center and railed against Team Trump for allegedly torturing kids? As Internet sleuths pointed out, Grahn’s photo was cropped to remove the timestamp: 2015. It garnered nearly 50,000 retweets anyway.
Then there was Rachel Maddow’s blog’s 2018 claim that the White House had edited the video of the president’s Helsinki news conference with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin “to remove [a] question about whether [he] wanted Trump to win.” The Washington Post and numerous other outlets debunked the claim, yet the tweet is still up, with 24,000 retweets — and no Twitter warning label.
In January 2019, former President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, joined thousands of other members of the blue-check Twitterati in touting a made-for-Twitter BuzzFeed News exposé. “This is big,” McFaul wrote, “President Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress.”
Yes, big — and false: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was quick to characterize the story as inaccurate, and its report made clear that the president had done no such thing. No Twitter “fact-check” hazard for McFaul, et al., though.
Harvard law professor and #Resistance icon Laurence Tribe in December 2017 asked his followers to “retweet if, like me, you’re aware of nothing in the Christopher Steele dossier that has been shown to be false.” Nearly 8,000 did retweet, despite the fact that the dossier has been thoroughly debunked.
Finally, on a local note: Surely, if a tweet should come with a health hazard, it was city Councilman Mark Levine’s February invitation to Gothamites to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown “in defiance of the coronavirus”: “If you are staying away, you are missing out!”
Sohrab Ahmari is The Post’s op-ed editor.
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