The White House has set its sights on a single Twitter employee after the company attached a fact-checking link to two of the president’s tweets containing lies and misinformation related to voter fraud. The charge was led on Fox News Wednesday morning, with Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway targeting Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, after digging up some tweets that were critical of Trump, Conway, and the administration.
Conway called the employee “horrible” and directed listeners to go after him. “Somebody in San Francisco go wake him up and tell him he’s about to get a lot more followers,” she said on air. Immediately, the call was picked up by right-wing personalities and Trump supporters, who began sharing screenshots of the employee’s tweets. Roth is already facing a torrent of abuse and harassment, including multiple death threats, reports Protocol.
Twitter won’t be taking any action against Roth for his tweets, and the company tells BuzzFeed News he was not responsible for the fact-checks. “No one person at Twitter is responsible for our policies or enforcement actions, and it’s unfortunate to see individual employees targeted for company decisions,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
Twitter fact-checked Trump’s tweets late on Tuesday afternoon by attaching information designed to clarify common lies and misinformation on mail-in voting resulting in rampant voter fraud, which is untrue and unsupported by any evidence. According to a Twitter spokesperson, the tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” Tapping or clicking the link attached to Trump’s tweets that says “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” leads to a series of news articles and links debunking the lies.
Trump and the Republican National Committee are targeting states trying to expand mail-in voting as a way to help enfranchise more voters and to create safer conditions for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, as higher voter turnout rates among historically disenfranchised voters tend to harm Republican candidates. The RNC, in fact, sued California over the weekend for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mail-in voting expansion plan for the 2020 election, claiming mail-in voting leads to voter fraud and calling the move an “illegal and brazen power grab.”
Trump has consistently targeted tech companies that don’t show him unquestioning adulation. Twitter’s decision to label his falsehoods sent him on a tirade against the company. Trump immediately responded to Twitter’s actions with threatening messages, writing on his Twitter account on Tuesday evening that the company is “now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election,” and reiterating his false statement that mail-in ballots “will lead to massive corruption and fraud.”
Trump on Wednesday then threatened “big action” against the company and said he will regulate or shut down any social media platform. While he doesn’t have the authority to shut down private companies for exercising their constitutional rights, Trump’s escalation of rhetoric, combined with the targeting of individual employees, is a disturbing new advancement in his culture war.