Trump claims Twitter is using trending page to promote negative news about him in bizarre rant

President uses Twitter to attack the social media platform and claims its trending topics page is ‘being studied’

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 17 September 2020 15:16 BST
Twitter puts fact-check warning on Trump tweets
Leer en Español

Donald Trump attacked Twitter during a bizarre rant on Thursday morning in which the president used the social media platform to lambast his apparent enemies, as well as expanded mail-in voting efforts amid the pandemic.

The president used Twitter to condemn the site’s own trending services, which curates popular topics, news stories and key words across the platform for its estimated 330 million monthly active users.

“Twitter makes sure that Trending on Twitter is anything bad, Fake or not, about President Donald Trump,” he wrote. “So obvious what they are doing. Being studied now!”

The president appeared to suggest Twitter’s trending services had become the subject of scrutiny, though it was unclear what he meant or if his administration was calling for an investigation into the platform’s curation methods. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter’s trending bar is not thought to be curated by humans, and instead automatically spots phrases and words that are seeing a fresh uptick in use, in an attempt to surface interesting content.

Mr Trump’s feud with Twitter and other social media platforms has only escalated during his bid for re-election, as the site has taken the rare step of adding warning labels to several of his posts containing misinformation and outright lies about mail-in voting. Facebook has also taken several steps to add fact-checking and warning signs for users viewing the president’s disputed claims.

He has previously suggested without evidence that social media platforms “totally silence conservatives” — despite the data actually showing right-wing figures and conservative voices enjoying some of the highest-engagement levels on a day-to-day basis across Facebook and elsewhere.

Mr Trump has also threatened to “strongly regulate” social media platforms that do not adhere to his demands — or shut them down entirely. However, it remains to be seen whether the president can successfully regulate social media.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denied the government had the ability to regulate social media platforms in terms of free speech after Mr Trump signed an executive order earlier this year seeking to clarify the rules surrounding their protections under the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said at a 2018 forum that sites likes Twitter and Facebook “are not going to be regulated in terms of free speech”, adding: “The government is not here to regulate these platforms. We don’t have the power to do that.”

Mr Trump also attacked his 2020 opponent Joe Biden, referring to him as “Sleepy Joe” in a tweet and calling on states to “give it up NOW” when it comes to sending out ballot applications in the mail. 

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in