US President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies, one day after Twitter added a warning to some of his tweets for the first time prompting readers to fact check the president’s claims.
Trump, without offering any evidence, reiterated his accusations of political bias by such technology platforms in a pair of early morning posts on Twitter, reports Reuters.
He said, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
Trump added: “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
Earlier on Tuesday, Twitter for the first time prompted readers to check the facts in tweets sent by Trump, warning that his claims about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact checkers.
The move marked a dramatic shift for the social network, Trump's primary tool for getting an unfiltered version of his message out to his political base, after years of permissive policies around content on its platform.
The company has been tightening those policies in recent years amid criticism that its hands-off approach had allowed abuse, fake accounts and misinformation to thrive.
Trump lashed out at the company in response, accusing it - in a tweet - of interfering in the 2020 presidential election. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!" he said.
Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, claimed in tweets earlier in the day that mail-in ballots would be "substantially fraudulent" and result in a "rigged election." He also singled out the governor of California over the issue, although the state is not the only one to use mail-in ballots.
Hours later, Twitter posted a blue exclamation mark alert underneath those tweets, prompting readers to "get the facts about mail-in ballots" and directing them to a page with information aggregated by Twitter staffers about the claims.
A headline at the top of the page stated "Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud," and was followed by a "what you need to know" section addressing three specific claims made in the tweets.
Trump posted the same text about mail-in ballots on his official Facebook page, where the post picked up 170,000 reactions and was shared 17,000 times. Facebook's policy is to remove content that misrepresents methods of voting or voter registration, but in this case it left the post untouched.