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USA: Trump fights Twitter for disinformation 2:03
(CNN Business) - For years, Twitter and Facebook have enjoyed a healthy rivalry: They have competed for acquisitions, talent and advertising dollars, and sometimes they have gone so far as to copy the characteristics of others in the endless search to grow your audience.
But the clash between the two tech companies seemed to come alive again this week after Twitter's decision to put data verification labels on some of President Donald Trump's tweets that sparked a series of threats, including an impending decree regulating social media companies.
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The CEOs of the two companies exchanged criticism in public. Former employees published their own blows on social networks. And some lawmakers were quick to highlight the differences between the approach Twitter and Facebook took, which could add to tensions.
"We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this," Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News in a clip posted online Wednesday. "I firmly believe that Facebook should not be the arbiter of the truth of everything people say online."
Hours later, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey seemed to reject the claim, saying that tagging tweets with data verifications does not make the social media company an "arbiter of truth."Twitter has new rules, and he applied them to Trump 1:54
“Our intention is to connect the points of the conflicting statements and display the disputed information so that people can judge for themselves. Greater transparency on our part is essential so that people can clearly see the reason behind our actions, "Dorsey tweeted this Wednesday night.
Others were even more direct. In a series of tweets on Wednesday, former Twitter executive Jason Goldman called Zuckerberg's statement to Fox News a "bad date," adding: "Going to Fox to hit Twitter in defense of Trump is really a move."
Public clashes between the two companies pushed aside the unified front that the tech industry tried to portray in the way it handles misinformation. The Trump tweets in question falsely claimed that the California governor was sending the voting ballot by mail to "anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there." Twitter tagged them with a message urging users to "Get information on voting by mail." The Twitter message was linked directly to a data verification page curated by journalists and summaries of news articles that discredit the claim.
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Facebook decided to do nothing, despite identical posts appearing on the platform. The company previously said that politicians are exempt from its third-party fact-checking program.
Combative rhetoric also hints at how high the risk is for each business as Trump intensifies his threats.
The draft decree being prepared by the Trump administration seeks to reduce the power of large social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, by trying to reinterpret a critical 1996 law that protects websites and tech companies from lawsuits.
In previous tweets after Twitter added the fact check tag, Trump threatened to "regulate" or even "shut down" social media platforms.
This week is not the first time that Zuckerberg and Dorsey disagree on how to handle political discourse on their respective platforms.
Dorsey announced last October that Twitter would stop running political ads. His announcement came after Zuckerberg publicly defended that Facebook not only allowed political ads, but also allowed politicians to lie in those ads.
In her tweets on Wednesday, Dorsey said she takes final responsibility for the decisions made by Twitter and asked people to "leave our employees out of this." (The previous Wednesday, Trump's two oldest children and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pointed to tweets made by Twitter employee Yoel Roth in 2016 and 2017 as evidence of Twitter's alleged bias against the president.)President Trump's atypical way of doing politics 3:44
"Ultimately, there is someone responsible for our actions as a company, and that is me," said Dorsey.
At that point, at least, Dorsey and Zuckerberg seem to agree. "I started Facebook," Zuckerberg told the Senate in 2018, "I administer it and I am responsible for what happens here."