America’s four big tech companies — Apple (AAPL), Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) — have seen intensified scrutiny from regulators and the public over their size, data privacy practices, and issues like fake news.
While Twitter (TWTR) has arguably faced less of a backlash than the big four, one prominent venture capitalist and big-tech critic, Roger McNamee, suggested that the social media’s influence is vast despite its relatively small size.
“The thing that's unique about Twitter is they really only have three audiences, but they may be the most important audiences on earth — government officials, journalists, and celebrities — and those three audiences are so influential. And they live in Twitter, so Twitter's policies matter,” McNamee said on The Final Round this week.
Twitter’s 145 million daily active users are dwarfed by Facebook’s 1.6 billion daily active users. But the micro-blogging site has gained prominence since President Donald Trump began using it as a platform to communicate policies and even fire a secretary of state.
The president has also been accused of using Twitter to bully and even threaten his detractors, including U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s leading the impeachment prosecution into Trump.
Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
“Twitter’s unwillingness to enforce its own policies on President Trump has allowed President Trump to do things like what he did last week with Adam Schiff, which amount to a threat to a sitting congressman from the president of the United States,” said McNamee, the author of “Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe.”
“That sort of behavior by Twitter is awful,” he said, though he added that Twitter recently said it would ban political advertising. “... But what I would really like to see them do is to enforce their terms of service on everyone and to recognize that it really isn't suitable to have a different set of service terms for politicians than you have for everyday people.”
For its part, Twitter has explicitly acknowledged that it applies a different set of standards to tweets from elected officials and those running for office than it applies to non-politicians.
“A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable,” Twitter said in a June blog post. “With this in mind, there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules.”
In October, Twitter clarified that it would remove tweets from elected officials if they promoted terrorism, directly threatened somebody with violence, posted private information, sexually exploited children, or encouraged self-harm.
Editor’s note: Roger McNamee holds stock in Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.
Pamela Granda is a producer on Yahoo Finance’s closing bell show, The Final Round. Follow her on Twitter.