On Monday, President Donald Trump reignited his feud with Twitter suggesting that the website’s trending topics section is “illegal” because the topics and content that appear there make him look bad.
“So disgusting to watch Twitter’s so-called ‘Trending’, where sooo many trends are about me, and never a good one. They look for anything they can find, make it as bad as possible, and blow it up, trying to make it trend.
Really ridiculous, illegal, and, of course, very unfair!” Trump tweeted.
So disgusting to watch Twitter’s so-called “Trending”, where sooo many trends are about me, and never a good one. They look for anything they can find, make it as bad as possible, and blow it up, trying to make it trend. Really ridiculous, illegal, and, of course, very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2020
Trump didn’t mention a specific trend or cite any evidence to support his claim that Twitter was intentionally biasing its trends against him, nor did he say which laws he believed the company is violating.
Twitter’s website says that “trends are determined by an algorithm and, by default, are tailored for you based on who you follow, your interests, and your location.” Users can also view topics that are trending by location instead of those personalized for them, according to the site.
Trump and other conservatives frequently accuse social media companies of bias against their political viewpoints, though so far without any systemic evidence. Trump has more than 84 million followers on the platform, the seventh-largest audience of any user and second only to former President Barack Obama among politicians, according to Brandwatch.
Multiple lawsuits brought by conservatives who said social media companies illegally discriminated against them have been rejected by courts because the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private companies.
Trump’s own criticisms of social media sites, Twitter in particular, have escalated in recent months as platforms face growing pressure to take action against hateful and potentially violence-inducing speech as well as misinformation.
Twitter drew Trump’s ire in May when it added fact-checking links to his false tweets about voting by mail, and again the same week when it applied a “glorifying violence” label to his tweet threatening protesters following George Floyd’s death with being shot.
Shortly after, Trump issued an executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that protects social media companies from being sued for content posted by users on their platforms, specifically calling out Twitter. Legal and tech policy experts have expressed skepticism that the order would hold up in court.