Reminding people once again its owner Jack Dorsey’s confession that his staff were largely leftist, Twitter betrayed its prejudice once again on 7 November when it greeted users searching for the word “loser” with an unusual first result: US President Donald Trump’s account.
The search result appeared as major news organizations declared that voters had delivered the presidency to Trump’s opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, after four days of nail-biting suspense following Tuesday’s election.
Searches for “winner” in the same “People” tab on Twitter, which suggests accounts to follow rather than turning up results from the text of users’ tweets, pointed to the accounts of Biden and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris.
Twitter said the results were automatically generated based on how people on the app were using the terms in their tweets at the time.
“If an account is mentioned often alongside certain terms, they can become algorithmically surfaced together as an association. These associations are temporal and ever changing based on how people tweet,” the company said in a statement.
The “loser” association was a rebuke for a president who for years has used the same social media platform to rail against those he deemed “haters and losers.”
Social media giants for the past few years have arrogated upon themselves the authority to play judges of authentic and fake news. Twitter was particularly notorious during the US presidential election in hiding data shared by President Trump tweet after tweet.
Earlier on 7 November, Twitter applied a warning label to a tweet by Trump that, in all-caps, falsely claimed that he had won the election. Facebook likewise applied a label to the same post: “Joe Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 US Presidential Election.”
Facebook had earlier pulled down a pro-Trump group over “worrying calls for violence“.
Social media companies have been labelling many of the president’s posts in recent days, after vowing to curb election misinformation and premature claims of victory. Ironically, it’s these social media companies that are claiming who has won the American presidential election prematurely — before any state of the US has officially done so.
Reporting by Raphael Satter in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England and Katie Paul in Palo Alto; Editing by Giles Elgood
In India, likewise, the so-called right-wingers face regular harassment in the hands of Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers, who are largely Muslims or on the payrolls of the Communist Party of China, and gangs that mass-report the posts of popular profiles to get them banned from the medium. The country’s Minster for Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had complained to Facebook about it in September.