Trump is threatening a “big lawsuit” after his campaign account was given a three-hour timeout on Twitter, and Senate Republicans have subpoena'd Jack Dorsey because they think this is the equivalent of Pearl Harbor.
A reasonable and credible person would be overjoyed at this morning’s New York Times headline that “Twitter locked the Trump campaign’s account, saying a post about the Bidens violated its rules.” But regrettably, that is a somewhat misleading assessment of what happened. Twitter did not lock the account of @realDonaldTrump (87.2 million followers), nor the equally unhinged “President Trump”-branded @POTUS account (31.8 million followers), but instead the relatively small-potatoes Trump reelection campaign account @TeamTrump (a mere 2.2 million followers). On top of that, the suspension lasted a mere three hours — this happened between about 5 a.m.-8 a.m. PT, while many of us west coasters had better things to do (sleep) than check Twitter.
Twitter has suspended @TeamTrump for posting a video calling Joe Biden a liar who has been ripping off our country for years, as it relates to the @nypost article.— Mike Hahn (@mikehahn_) October 15, 2020
19 days out from the election. pic.twitter.com/Z9FFzridyr
But the right-wing agitprop machine sees this as Twitter playing the role of Napoleon Bonaparte leading a coup d'etat to anoint themselves shadow emperors for life. “This is election interference, plain and simple,” Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh fumed to the Times. “For Twitter to lock the main account of the campaign of the President of the United States is a breathtaking level of political meddling and nothing short of an attempt to rig the election.” (Again, this is not the main account of the President of the United States! Trump doesn’t even use this account!) Trump then vowed on Fox Business that there would be a “big lawsuit.”
Plus, the account was quickly reinstated, and has been having a field day with dozens and dozens and dozens of football-spiking tweets since. It has also since retweeted the exact same video that got the account briefly locked, to no apparent consequence.
Why is this all happening? Above we see a screenshot of the incriminating video, as @TeamTrump calls it, “the video Twitter doesn’t want you to watch.” It contains screenshots of emails allegedly related to the inflammatory, dubious story about Hunter Biden, the spread of which Facebook and Twitter have attempted to squelch because it is so obviously Russian disinformation/Russian meddling in the election. The emails are supposedly hacked, which as Business Insider explains, are therefore violating Twitter’s terms against doxxing and the sharing of hacked materials.
NYT: US Intelligence believes the Burisma “emails” released today are forged and part of a Kremlin-GRU attempt to influence the election.— Robert J. DeNault (@robertjdenault) October 15, 2020
But people, it is highly unlikely that these are even hacked emails! The short explanation is that all technical evidence points to the fact that they are glorified Photoshops, or more accurately, manipulated PDF files. The longer, more detailed explanation is capably handled here by TechCrunch, and the Times reported yesterday that U.S. intelligence believes the emails are part of a Kremlin disinformation campaign using — guess who! — Rudy Giuliani as its stooge.
The Senate’s subpoena of Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey escalates a long-running battle between Republicans and social-media companies, which conservatives see as biased in favor of liberal viewpoints. https://t.co/52MIBIZIlF— Capital Journal (@WSJPolitics) October 15, 2020
But there is no place for “intelligence” in the universe of right-wing Trumpian batshittery. The Verge reports that the Senate Senate Judiciary Committee will subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to grill him over this (though that is not yet official, and don’t they have something else on their plate right now?). They’ll also hope to pillory Dorsey for the locking of Kayleigh McEnany’s account for the same reason, over which the White House press secretary complained to Fox News, "They essentially have me at gunpoint.”
Today marked the United States crossing the 217,000 American deaths threshold because of the coronavirus pandemic. But you can bet at tonight’s Trump town hall, any question about the death toll or the economic havoc will immediately be answered with unrelated tantrums over Twitter censoring the Hunter Biden story.
Related: Trump Issues Order to Punish Twitter for Fact-Checking Him; Zuckerberg Says They Shouldn't Be Fact-Checking Him [SFist]
Image: WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 28: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office before signing an executive order related to regulating social media on May 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump's executive order could lead to attempts to punish companies such as Twitter and Google for attempting to point out factual inconsistencies in social media posts by politicians. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)