A Republican congressman whines about the number of Twitter followers he has, so Trump goes on the attack and threatens Twitter.
If it's a day ending in "y," Republicans are feeling victimized.
Today, it's over the phony claim that Twitter is singling out conservative voices and somehow trying to silence them via a practice known as "shadow banning." Now Trump is leading the parade of whiners and threatening the company.
"Twitter 'SHADOW BANNING' prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints," he announced, ironically, on Twitter.
Trump's unethical threat to use the federal government to punish a public company for partisan reasons comes as his blind loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) complains about the number of Twitter followers he has.
"I feel victimized and violated by a platform that holds itself out to be a public forum," Gaetz told The Hill, in reference to Twitter. "It's really frustrating to think that the marketplace of ideas couldn't accommodate the thoughts and musings that I contribute."
None of what Gaetz is claiming about Twitter is accurate.
Latching onto a dubious Vice News report, which made the hollow claim that prominent conservatives were being "shadow banned," Gaetz and conservatives have spent the last 24 hours airing hysterical claims that they're being silenced and censored by media and tech companies
They're not. And they're not even being "shadow banned."
That terms refers the long running online practice of reducing someone's online presence so their posts are seen less often, which in turn means that person has less interaction with others.
But as New York magazine's Brian Feldman explains, all that's happening to Gaetz and other conservatives is that when a Twitter user goes to the search box and starts looking for Gaetz's Twitter handle, instead of automatically finishing the search after several letters are typed, the person searching for Gaetz has to type in his entire time, and then his Twitter handle appears.
It's more of an annoyance.
"Is it bad? Sure, the way a hangnail is bad," Feldman writes. "But it’s not censorship, and it’s certainly not 'shadow-banning.'"
He notes the idea that social media companies like Twitter and Facebook regularly censure conservative voices "has become all but an article of faith among internet-native conservative activists and publishers — despite little evidence to support the claim."
The Twitter changes that prompted alterations in the way some searches are done went into effect mid-May, when the company implemented a new policy to tamp down "troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation." The change was meant to reduce the presence of white supremacists and other extremists on Twitter.
Meanwhile, it makes perfect sense that Trump is going to bat for Gaetz on the basis of a worthless conspiracy, since Gaetz, who was elected in Congress in 2016, has spent his entire time there trying to inoculate Trump from scandal.
Attacking Twitter isn't going to solve that problem.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.