A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 79

Bird thou never wert.

Wednesday, May 27

Twitter’s new policy announced on a page called “Updating our Approach to Misleading Information” threatens to undo its claim that it is merely a platform, not a publisher.

Up to now, the social-media giant has been able to say that it had no responsibility for a variety of stuff on its site, ranging from hate crimes to copyright infringement. Now, its executives seem to feel that they have no choice but to behave more like a publisher. And just like, say, The Washington Post or Simon & Schuster, a more active involvement in the content of what’s posted on Twitter necessarily opens them up to legal action by law enforcement and/or aggrieved parties. The social media giant has already been sued by a number of parties, ranging from Congressman Devin Nunez to actor James Woods.

Just how Twitter will finesse these thorny matters will be of considerable interest to society.

The precipitating event for the Twitter policy change came from none other than Mr. MAGA himself, when he tweeted, without providing evidence: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.” Twitter placed a warning label in Trump’s post and linked to a tag that described the claim as “unsubstantiated.” 

Trump has also been involved in a running feud with MS-NBC anchor Joe Scarborough. He has implied in tweets that “Nut Job” Scarborough was somehow involved in the 2001 death of a staffer, Lori Klausutis, who died from complications of an undiagnosed heart condition while working for Scarborough when he was a Florida congressman. As usual, Trump’s claims regarding Klausutis are bonkers, probably intended as distraction from the COVID-19 fiasco.

What can the orange man do? “Strongly regulate” or “close down” Twitter as he has threatened? Baloney—then what would he do at 3 a.m.? Watch Larry King infomercials? Or maybe old tapes of TV show Playboy After Dark?

Currently, he averages 29 tweets a day and up to 108.

Twitter has Trump’s number—in the same way that he has others’ number. He is a Twitter addict, no more able to shut down Twitter that a junkie could shut down his pusher.

Twitter is also his enabler. Just where did our leader learn this trick of insulting/bullying people to get them to respond and maybe draw attention to himself? From Joe McCarthy or sidekick Roy Cohn? From his own obnoxious, ostentatious father? 

According to Trump Revealed, a biography by Washington Post journalists, Trump was a “loudmouthed bully” in childhood. In school, he was an arrogant overbearing show-off who attacked girls.

Why would such a person appeal to any U.S. voters?

Would you vote for the guy who bullied you in 7th grade? Would you go to a rally for the guy who repeatedly bullied and insulted others? Is it a lynch-mob mentality–if I support him maybe he won’t turn and attack me? I seriously don’t understand the whole Trump phenomenon.

If Obama made you feel a little bit better about America—despite certain policies such as mass deportations—Trump has certainly made lots of people feel much, much worse about our citizenry. 

But now, I’m ranting—right up there with Paula Poundstone.

Tonight’s dinner: All-American hamburgers, baked potatoes with, you guessed it, sour cream. Plus coleslaw.

Entertainment: The Polish cold-war-era policier The Mire.