The FEC unanimously rejected Matt Gaetz's complaint accusing Twitter of interfering in the 2020 election by using fact-check labels on Trump's tweets

The FEC unanimously rejected Matt Gaetz's complaint accusing Twitter of interfering in the 2020 election by using fact-check labels on Trump's tweets
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Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at a markup hearing of the National Defense Authorization Act on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at a markup hearing of the National Defense Authorization Act on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
  • The FEC unanimously rejected Rep. Matt Gaetz's complaint alleging "domestic election interference" by Twitter.

  • Gaetz had argued that Twitter was making an illegal contribution to Trump's opponents by fact-checking.

  • The commission ultimately agreed that Twitter had legitimate commercial reasons to fact-check tweets.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Federal Election Commission unanimously rejected a complaint by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, which alleged that Twitter was interfering in the 2020 presidential election by affixing "fact-check" labels to some of former President Trump's tweets.

In May of 2020, after Twitter first applied fact-check labels to factually inaccurate tweets about mail-in voting by the president, Gaetz announced on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show that he was filing a complaint with the commission.

"Twitter is interfering with an election. If we just wait around, big tech will steal this election from Donald Trump and the American people," Gaetz said in a press release at the time.

This is Gaetz's second Twitter complaint to get rejected by the commission-- last week, Insider reported that the commission rejected a Gaetz complaint over an alleged 2018 "shadow ban" by the platform.

In his initial complaint in May 2020, Gaetz alleged that Twitter had become a "shadow contributor to the Democratic National Committee" and making a prohibited contribution to Trump's political opponents.

"By opining on the content of the President's tweets, Twitter is injecting its own editorial opinions in an attempt to lower the credibility of the President," alleged Gaetz in the complaint. "By failing to adhere to the true nature of a [Section 230] protected platform, Twitter then degrades itself and becomes the 'wet-market of ideas.'"

Election fraud is criminal and its penalties should be determined by the courts, not by @jack," continued the complaint, referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey by his handle. "Twitter users may erroneously perceive a candidate with a fact-check linked to his tweets as a scarlet letter, which is wholly unjust and in violation of FEC law."

As in a previous complaint, Gaetz also argued that Twitter is a debate platform subject to FEC regulation, a notion that the commission refuted in both cases.

Twitter responded to Gaetz's complaint less than two months later, pointing to its "Civic Integrity Policy" while indicating that the company had implemented new policies to combat misinformation in part due to advertisers' concerns.

"Advertisers have asked companies to do more in this area or risk losing advertising revenue," a representative for Twitter wrote. "Just last month, Unilever cited misinformation and related concerns in support of its decision to halt advertising on Twitter and other platforms."

The company also pointed to its fact-check labeling of a tweet by actress Debra Messing - who tweeted a photoshopped image of Adolf Hitler holding a Bible alongside a similar photo of Trump after protesters were removed by force from Lafayette Square in front of the White House - as an example of the platform's nonpartisan approach.

A December legal analysis by the commission found that Twitter's conduct failed to meet the criteria of being an illegal contribution or expenditure, in part because the fact checks themselves did not include references to Trump's candidacy.

"[Gaetz's] argument is not borne out by the content of Twitter's post, however, which does not reference his status as a candidate, the upcoming election, or exhort readers to vote in a certain way," reads the analysis. "Instead, it describes Trump's tweets as "unsubstantiated" and references various news sources that cast doubt on his claims."

The FEC unanimously found in August 2021 that Twitter did not violate election laws and then overwhelmingly voted to close the file.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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