Last week, Twitter attached a link to one of President Donald Trump's tweets, asserting that the president's claims about voter fraud and mail-in voting weren't true. The social media platform decision incensed Trump and many Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Attorney General Ken Paxton. The president even issued an executive order attempting to strip social media companies of liability protections they've enjoyed since the '90s.
There a plenty of times over the past couple of years where Texans on Twitter could've used a little help from the fact checkers. If Jack Dorsey and company want to police their platform, here are a couple of places we wish they'd have started.
1. Let's start with an easy one:
In September 2019, North Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland called vaccines witchcraft during a Twitter fight with Dr. Peter Hotez, one of Texas's leading vaccinologists.
Thanks for pointing out again how enriching witchcraft can be. Truly breathtaking how much money big pharma has to throw around.— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) September 11, 2019
The fact check could've been one sentence: "Vaccines are not witchcraft."
2. Gov. Greg Abbott pumps up Kid Rock's Senate campaign:
In 2017, Kid Rock acted like he was running for Senate in Michigan. He wasn't, really, but that didn't stop Abbott from celebrating his campaign.
The problem with poll Abbott tweeted out, as FiveThirtyEight would later explain, is that the organization that conducted it, Delphi Analytica, wasn't a polling firm. It wasn't even clear, the politics analysis website found, whether or not the firm even conducted the poll the way they said they did. Delphi Analytica's goal was to get attention. It worked, thanks in large part to the governor.
3. Abbott, part two:
In August 2018, in the midst of a right-wing frenzy over the loosely collected leftists who compose Antifa, Abbott tweeted a quote he believed came from Winston Churchill.
“The fascists of the future,” an image macro featuring Churchill said, “will call themselves antifascists.”
The thing is, Churchill never uttered the sentence quoted in the meme. The meme itself came from @9gag, a Hong Kong-based content farm. Abbott deleted the tweet, but not before he made The Washington Post.
4. Katrina Pierson mixes up Gaza and Belarus: Failed Dallas congressional candidate and Trump acolyte Katrina Pierson has never worried to much about consistency or the truth. A little more than a year ago, in an apparent attempt to attack Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar over violence between Palestinians in Gaza and Israel, Pierson tweeted out images of rocket's being fired.
The rockets in question, The Washington Post found, were likely fired in Belarus. Pierson still hasn't deleted the tweet.
650 Rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza in an attempt to overwhelm Israels Iron Dome: 173 intercepts, 4 people killed, and 28 wounded. What is @IlhanMN response to this violence? Will she condemn it? pic.twitter.com/Vb1Ymxygj6— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 5, 2019
5. Abbott dooms the Astros:
In 2014, the Astros were up 6-2 over the Royals in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. They led the series 2-1 and looked poised to make their first American League Championship Series. Abbott crowned them early. The Royals came back and then won Game 5 in Kansas City.
Another easy fact check: "No, they haven't."
Here's the screen cap of the Tweet deleted by TX Gov. Abbott pic.twitter.com/wYYh6WNcrO— Cliff Saunders (@radioguycliff) October 12, 2015
6. Twitter tries to shoot Amari Cooper: On Feb. 19, a now-dead Twitter account called @TOffseason caused Dallas' sports media to melt down by tweeting that the Cowboys' Amari Cooper had been shot in a local parking garage. It never happened. Less than a month later, the Cowboys signed Cooper to a brand new, five-year, $100 million contract.
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7. Dallas police make Mark Hughes wait: Late on the night of July 7, 2016, one of the worst in Dallas history, Dallas police tweeted out a photo of Mark Hughes, identifying him as a suspect in the police shootings that left five officers dead. Hughes had nothing to do with the shooting, but DPD left their tweet of his photo up for hours, even after police killed the alleged shooter, Micah X. Johnson, with a bomb robot.
Maybe a simple "This isn't the guy!" clarification would've helped.