President Donald Trump’s war with Twitter, his favorite medium of communication, has taken an ugly twist after it was learnt that the head of the social media giant’s fact-checking team targeted the current administration in earlier tweets.
Yoel Roth, who is the head of the Site Integrity at Twitter, faced criticism on Wednesday, May 27, after his tweets targeting Trump emerged less than 24 hours after the microblogging site put a fact-checking warning (through blue exclamation mark alert) on two of the president’s tweets related to mail-in voting and the claim that it would lead to a “rigged election”. Twitter also said the president’s negative claims about mail-in voting were found to be “unsubstantiated” by fact-checkers at major news outlets like CNN and The Washington Post, which are known to be Trump’s rivals. Trump lashed out at Twitter soon after accusing it of interfering in the 2020 presidential election and stifling free speech.
This is the first time that Twitter has come up with such a move against Trump whom it had earlier resisted from censuring. It came in the wake of the appeal made by the widower of a dead staffer of former Congressman Joe Scarborough, to Twitter to delete Trump’s tweets insinuating that the politician-turned-journalist killed her. Twitter though admitted that the late Lori Klausutis’ family was in pain because of such remarks and promised to expand the scope of its policies to deal with them in the near future. However, the remarks were yet to be removed.
But soon after Twitter’s fact-checking move against Trump’s claims, previous tweets made by Roth, including the one in which he likened the Trump administration to Nazis, resurfaced. Roth, who holds a PhD from Pennsylavnia’s Annenberg School for Communication, looks after the team that investigates misinformation on Twitter. He started working at Twitter in 2015 as a product trust partner, his LinkedIn profile reveals.
Yoel Roth attacked Trump and his administration
Roth’s ‘Nazis’ tweet came in January 2017, just after Trump took oath as the 45th president. He referred to the Republican’s administration as “actual Nazis in the White House”. Even on Election Day (November 8) in 2016, Roth indirectly targeted Trump by referring to him as a “racist tangerine” besides slamming the states that voted for him. “I’m just saying, we fly over those states that voted for a racist tangerine for a reason,” his tweet read.
Later, in January 2017, he slammed Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway to notorious Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels, saying: “Today on Meet The Press, we're speaking with Joseph Goebbels about the first 100 days...' -- What I hear whenever Kellyanne is on a news show.”
On Wednesday, Conway, who is currently a counselor to Trump, slammed Roth in an interview with Fox and Friends and gave out his Twitter handle on air.
“This guy is constantly attacking Trump voters, Trump, Mitch McConnell, you name it. He's the head of integrity at Twitter,” Conway said, adding: “It’s horrible the way he looks at people who should otherwise have a free and clear platform on Twitter.”
Trump, on his part, was so irked with Twitter that he even threatened to shut it. In a tweet, 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.”
In a statement, Twitter said Trump’s tweets about mail-in voting did not violate its rules because they didn’t ask people not to vote. Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said the tweets featured ‘potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots’.