Quick Take: Twitter fact checks Trump; Race tensions amid growing US inequality

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:


We've got first of all, a Twitter war. There is always a Twitter war. You know, nobody really wants to take Trump on. Everyone says they're deeply concerned, right? You've got Mitt Romney - why are you going after Joe Scarborough? Unacceptable. Could censor him? Not going to do that. Susan Collins - oh, I don't know, I really am not comfortable. She's not going to do anything.

No, no, no. Jack, Jack Dorsey, Twitter's CEO, says enough of it. He's using my social media platform as a flame thrower. And he's saying I am going to start fact checking Trump on Twitter. And that does not go over very well.

If you fact check Trump on Twitter, that probably means more people are going to pay attention to those tweets because there's controversy around them and that's really what Trump wants, is eyeballs. Secondly, you start fact checking Trump and you know, it's politics. It is really hard to understand were fact checking starts and where it stops. Both of the president who, yes, does lie all the time and exaggerates constantly and that's how he became president, but it is not unknown to politicians to exaggerate and even lie, even if not to a degree of Trump. And Twitter has all those politicians on their platform. And so, one, who's going to make that judgment? And two, it's expensive to do that stuff. And then three, and here's what's most interesting, Mark Zuckerberg throws Jack Dorsey under a face bus. Finally, anyone but Zuckerberg is in the crosshairs. And Facebook, of course, with, you know, well over a billion users and vastly more important for Trump and for Trump's campaign than Twitter is like, no, no, I'm not going to be the person who decides what is and is not fake news on my platform. Even though Facebook, by the way, does do that and de-platforms people all the time who are promoting hate speech and indeed fake news around coronavirus cures. They shut down President Bolsonaro in Brazil for precisely that. But he doesn't want to get into a fight with Trump. Why not? Well, because that's important from a regulatory perspective, meaning cash, cash, cash for Facebook.

I think this is going to end up being a big nothing burger. I don't think it matters much for Trump. I don't think it matters much for social media. But it is going to be a lot of effort for Jack and probably very little payoff. Social media is a flaming dumpster fire. But that's, of course, why people spend time on it, you follow the people that you like, and then you follow a few people that you hate. There's definitely a niche. We're trying not to do that. But it's a small niche. It's so much easier to just throw red meat at people that agree with you all the time and spike everyone else in.

So that's my take on the Twitter war.

It's always the little guy that gets screwed in this environment, which, of course, brings us to Minneapolis. Why are we having this fighting going on right now? Well, massive inequality in the United States, which obviously has racial overtones to. It's been growing for decades now. But on top of that, 40 million people unemployed. On top of that, six to eight percent economic contraction this year. And on top of that, lots of video amplified by social media and much more political extremism and continued plenty of, you know, hate crimes going on, including over policing and no rights being taken care of by blacks that are suspected of crimes as opposed to whites. And, you know, this keeps going on. It's not new. It's been happening for decades and decades in the United States, despite civil rights in this country, despite Martin Luther King in this country, despite the effort to truly fight, the first black president in this country. None of these issues were addressed. Police killings were the same at the beginning of the Obama administration as they were at the end. And inequality has only grown. And after four years of Trump, same story. So, not surprising in a place like Minneapolis. Immense racial disparity and inequality in Minneapolis, too.

I know we talk about Minnesota nice, but certainly not what we're seeing on display right now and plenty of other cities around the country that have experienced these problems that are going to take to the streets to. Social dissent should not surprise us, particularly when the inequality is going to grow so much and when our ability to take care of these people will be so constrained, given just how much need there is, something that will be weaponized in this election.

Fortunately, Biden at least is trying to be the candidate for empathy. Unfortunately, he gets none of the headlines. This is going to be about Trump. He drives the social media conversation. He has the vast majority followers and he is the person that the headlines want to be written about. And so, as a consequence, I think you're going to see vastly more divisiveness over the course of this crisis. You're likely to see more violence. And Trump is going to do his best to use that to intensify the support for his base and get them to turn out in larger numbers than those that support Biden.

I still don't have a strong call on who's going to win in November. Looks pretty tight. The country is really divided, and swing states are still pretty close. But what's very clear is that this is going to be ugly and unfortunately, it's also going to be violent.

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It's been a bad week at the office for President Trump. Not only have coronavirus cases in the US been soaring, but The New York Times' bombshell report alleging that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan has continued to make headlines. While details about the extent of the Russian bounty program — and how long it's been going on for — remain murky, President Trump now finds himself in a massive bind on this issue.

Here are three key questions to consider.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses technology industry news today:

Do some of the Facebook's best features, like the newsfeed algorithm or groups, make removing hate speech from the platform impossible?

No, they do not. But what they do do is make it a lot easier for hate speech to spread. A fundamental problem with Facebook are the incentives in the newsfeed algorithm and the structure of groups make it harder for Facebook to remove hate speech.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Yes, still in the middle of coronavirus, but thought I'd give you a couple of my thoughts on Russia. Part of the world that I cut my teeth on as a political scientist, way back in the eighties and nineties. And now Putin is a president for life, or at least he gets to be president until 2036, gets another couple of terms. The constitutional amendments that he reluctantly allowed to be voted on across Russia, passed easily, some 76% approval. And so now both in China and in Russia, term limits get left behind all for the good of the people, of course. So that they can have the leaders that they truly deserve. Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here. It's sad to see. It's sad to see that the Americans won the Cold War in part, not just because we had a stronger economy and a stronger military, but actually because our ideas were better.

Because when those living in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Block looked at the West, and looked at the United States, they saw that our liberties, they saw that our economy, was something that they aspired to and was actually a much better way of giving opportunities to the average citizen, than their own system afforded. And that helped them to rise up against it.

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Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US politics:

How likely is bipartisan action against Russia in light of Taliban bounty reports?

I think it's probably unlikely. One of the challenges here is that there's some conflict of the intelligence and anything that touches on the issue of President Trump and Russia is extremely toxic for him. Republicans have so far been tolerant of that and willing to stop any new sanctions coming. I think unless the political situation or the allegations get much worse or more obvious, that stalemate probably remains.

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