BOSTON (CBS) — “When will they open a cold case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida,” President Trump tweeted recently, one of several promoting a long-debunked conspiracy theory tying the MSNBC personality and frequent Trump critic to the accidental death of a woman who worked in his office. “Did he get away with murder? Some people think so,” Trump wrote.
Here, “Trump is using the memory of a dead woman to score cheap and pointless political points,” New York Times technology columnist Kara Swisher said in a WBZ interview.
She says Twitter founder Jack Dorsey should heed a call from the woman’s widower for removal of the president’s false tweets, after the man wrote a letter to Dorsey recounting the pain these lies have caused him and his family and “asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife – and perverted it for perceived political gain.”
“In any other case Twitter would have removed this, they do it all the time,” says Swisher. “It’s just they refuse to do it with Donald Trump because they deem everything he does newsworthy, and what I’m trying to point out is that not everything he does is newsworthy.”
But social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have been reluctant to take costly and controversial steps to weed out lies and slander on their platforms.
Just today the Wall Street Journal reports top Facebook executives have lost interest in making major changes to deal with divisive and false content.
“They have to at some point make a decision about what kind of company they want, and they have to take responsibility even if it’s hard,” says Swisher. “What if [Trump] loses the election and the day after he tweets that people should rise up with their guns? What will they do then?”
Keep in mind, there’s no First Amendment issue here. Twitter and Facebook are private companies and the Constitution only bars Congress from abridging speech.
Nonetheless, this afternoon, a Twitter spokesman said that while they’re “deeply sorry” for the family’s pain, they aren’t going to take down the tweets.