By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Social media threat has extended reach

With apologies to Twitter enthusiasts out there, I don’t quite get it.

It’s all I can handle to navigate the internet, email and in-office messaging systems. I lack time to track people’s random thoughts on Twitter, and have limited appreciation for why those ramblings are national news.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Twitter, however, is major news this week. At press time, we were awaiting word on President Donald Trump’s planned executive order to regulate social media platforms. The repercussions could have significant impact on all media.

To set the stage, consider two Twitter posts from Wednesday:

President Trump: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservative voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016.”

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe: “Just to be clear: Trump’s statement that Twitter, a private company, is abridging his First Amendment freedom of speech by tagging his wild tweets about write-in voter fraud as misleading is totally absurd and legally illiterate.”

Last year, Twitter posted notices on selected tweets by major political leaders: “The Twitter rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.”

This year, with a continuing epidemic of political conspiracy theories and other misinformation campaigns, Twitter started adding links to fact-checking sites when tweets include “misleading information, disputed claims and unverified claims.”

Media has an inherent responsibility to promote accuracy in both facts and context. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Today, however, that is a slippery slope for Twitter and other media. Many people aggressively defend rights to their own facts and factual context, and Twitter quickly ran afoul of America’s twitterer-in-chief with tags on Trump tweets regarding national vote-by-mail fraud. Trump saw political gain in threatening all social media with closure for perceived bias.

Will that threat extend to television, radio and newspapers? Will newspapers shut down their community forum platforms rather than fight the intrusion of government-endorsed discrimination actions? Will bias become a crime … and if so, what pure, non-biased government authority will be empowered to enforce the penalties?

We read, at press time, how Trump is poised to sign his new executive order. Obviously, there’s much more to follow.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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