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Trump Singles Out Twitter Employee for Fact-Checking Tweets

Kurt Wagner and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

(Bloomberg) --

President Donald Trump called out a single Twitter employee Thursday in a tweet complaining that the platform’s decision to fact check his tweets on mail balloting could “taint” the U.S. election.

“So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD,” Trump tweeted. “How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World.”

Trump then directed his 80 million Twitter followers to “tell that to your hater,” and included the Twitter handle of an employee who runs Twitter’s site integrity team, Yoel Roth. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway blamed the same employee on Wednesday of single-handedly making the decision to fact check the president’s Tuesday tweets about mail-in voting.

The company responded Wednesday by trying to protect the employee from potential harassment from the president’s supporters. Twitter’s head of legal and policy, Vijaya Gadde, tweeted Wednesday, “No one person at Twitter is responsible for our policies or enforcement actions.”

A Twitter spokesperson also said the decision to label Trump’s tweets was made by a number of high ranking executives on Twitter’s policy and legal teams. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey on Wednesday said if anyone should be held responsible, it should be him. “Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that’s me. Please leave our employees out of this,” he tweeted.

The president’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, later lashed out at Twitter for adding fact-checking links to two Trump tweets and singled out Roth. She said the platform is biased against the president and political conservatives.

“This is bias in action,” McEnany said in a briefing for reporters at the White House on Thursday. She said that Trump would “take action” to ensure free speech is protected online.

“Twitter’s head of site integrity has tweeted that there are quote, ‘actual Nazis,’ in the White House and no fact-check label was ever applied to this actually outrageous and false claim made against the White House and its employees,” she said.

The White House is preparing an executive order regarding Twitter and other social media companies, though Trump has yet to sign it. He tweeted earlier Thursday that “this will be a Big Day for social media and FAIRNESS.”

McEnany said the order would be signed later in the afternoon on Thursday. The order purports to narrow Twitter’s liability protections social media companies enjoy for posting content for third parties, according to a draft of the document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Conway and Trump singled out Roth, in part, because of his own Twitter history. Roth, who has worked at Twitter since 2015, has posted many tweets over the years criticizing the president, including some that liken Trump to a Nazi.

A Twitter spokesperson said Wednesday that Roth had received death threats as a result of the White House’s remarks. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on Trump’s Thursday tweet.

(Updates with Trump spokeswoman starting in sixth paragraph.)

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