President Donald Trump would like you to believe that the world’s biggest tech platforms are conspiring against him in a bid to silence his campaign ahead of November’s election. After Facebook and Twitter removed posts by Trump and his team this week that falsely claimed children are “almost immune” to COVID-19, his administration melted down into a familiar rant against Silicon Valley’s supposed “anti-Trump” bias.
Top White House counselor Kellyanne Conwayappeared on Fox News on Thursday and accused “tech overlords” of committing “election interference” and being “overly anti-Trump.” Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s communications director, argued in a tweet that Big Tech is “hopelessly biased against the President.” The Trump campaign tweeted at Facebook and Twitter, calling on them to “STOP THE BIAS!” And Courtney Parella, a campaign spokesperson, told HuffPost that the removals were “another display of Silicon Valley’s flagrant bias against this President, where the rules are only enforced in one direction.”
Such claims are unsupported by evidence but have nevertheless become a key pillar of Trump’s reelection playbook. By crying censorship and driving the conspiratorial narrative that tech giants are stifling his speech as a favor to liberals, the president has established for himself a win-win position: He can spread falsehoods on social media about whatever he wants — the media, voter fraud, the pandemic, Democratic opponent Joe Biden — and then play the victim when (or if) they get taken down, while pressuring his supporters to “fight back” by donating to his campaign.
His statement about kids and COVID-19 was not only false but dangerous, and a clear violation of Facebook and Twitter policies against coronavirus misinformation. (As many schools across the country prepare to reopen, children account for 7% of reported COVID-19 infections, or more than 200,000 cases.) Yet the removal of those posts on...