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.

Demography is destiny. That ominous-sounding pronouncement, credited to French philosopher Auguste Comte, is today taken to mean that a nation's fate depends on the youthfulness of its population. For a poor country to become rich, it needs lots of young people ready to work, to support those too old or too young to work, and to pay taxes. This is called the "demographic dividend."

That's an important part of China's success story. Over the past 40 years, more than one billion people have emerged from poverty in China. Waves of young people surged from the countryside into cities to work in factories. The state invested in education, and wages helped young workers, and then their children, go to school. The state also began a drive to develop the technologies of the future, by any means necessary. In China, once dirt-poor, hundreds of millions have created a middle class.

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Get insights on the latest news about emerging trends in cyberspace from Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian:

This week we talk about one of my favorite topics, regulation. Laws are often framed as a barrier to innovation and not always recognized as a key enabler of freedoms and the protection of rights. But what's more is that regulation is a process, and one that can have tons of different outcomes. So, being in favor or against regulation doesn't mean anything. Except that those who oppose any changes are apparently benefiting from the status quo.

Is the world at a tipping point when it comes to regulating big tech?

And I would say absolutely. The outsized power of big tech is recognized more broadly because the harms are so blatantly clear. Harms to democracy, public health, but also to fairness in the economy are all related to the outsized power of unaccountable and under-regulated big tech. Now, what's significant is that this debate has finally hit home in the United States after it was already recognized as a problem in many other parts of the world.

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Do we spend too much time thinking about our own carbon footprints and not enough time thinking about bigger factors? Climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert acknowledges it's necessary for individuals to make changes in the way they live, but that isn't the number one priority.

"What would you do to try to move this battleship in a new direction? It requires public policy levers. And it requires … some pretty serious legislation." Ian Bremmer spoke with Kolbert, an award-winning journalist and author and staff writer at The New Yorker, on a new episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Watch the episode: Can We Fix the Planet the Same Way We Broke It?

Not everyone thinks that President Biden's decision to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan by 9/11/21 is a good idea. Conservative Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a combat-decorated Green Beret with multiple tours in Afghanistan, thinks that the US still needs to maintain a small presence in the country to avoid incurring "massive risks." In a spirited discussion with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, Waltz, who served as counterterrorism advisor in the George W. Bush administration, argues, "The next 9/11, the next Pulse Night Club, which is right on the edge of my congressional district, the next San Bernardino, that's now on Biden's watch. He owns it with this decision." Their conversation is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, which airs on US public television starting Friday, April 23. Check local listings.

Vaccines are the best hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. But rich countries are hogging most of the doses, with more than 83 percent of shots administered to date having gone to residents in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Most poor countries will have to wait years to achieve widespread vaccination, according to one study.

To address this inequity some stakeholders are pushing hard for waivers to intellectual-property (IP) rights through World Trade Organization trade rules so that manufacturers in poorer countries can make their own vaccines locally. India and South Africa have been leading the charge, which would essentially mean that deep-pocketed pharma companies like New York-based Pfizer, for instance, would have to hand over the keys to the kingdom, allowing local companies in New Delhi and Johannesberg to make generic versions of their vaccines.

Unsurprisingly, the debate has gotten fiery, with passionate arguments emerging both for and against.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What are the Russians up to against Ukraine?

We simply don't know, except the fact that they're concentrating a huge amount of military forces. And you don't do that for nothing or for fun. They are there for a purpose, to have pressure or to undertake limited to larger operations. We simply don't know. And when Putin delivered his State of the Union speech the other day, he didn't say a thing about this. They are now talking about withdrawing the forces. But let's wait and see. They have talked about withdrawing forces from Syria for a long time, but we haven't seen that as of yet.

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Australia rips up Belt & Road deal: Australia cancelled two 2018 deals signed between Victoria, Australia's wealthiest state, and the Chinese government, that committed the two sides to working together on initiatives under China's Belt and Road infrastructure development program. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the agreements "were adverse to our foreign relations." Similar deals between Victoria and institutions in Iran and Syria were also abandoned by the Australian government this week, under a 2020 law that allows Canberra to nullify international agreements struck at local and state level. (Australian universities say the "foreign veto bill" amounts to "significant overreach.") Meanwhile, Beijing hit back, calling the move "unreasonable and provocative," and accusing Canberra of further stoking divisions after a series of escalatory moves by both sides that have seen China-Australia relations deteriorate to their worst point in decades. Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 62 percent last year, a massive blow for Australia's export-reliant economy.

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