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Trump’s social media conspiracy theory, briefly debunked

The president wants you to believe Twitter is out to get him. There’s no evidence that’s true.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump host the Congressional Ball
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Congressional Ball at White House in Washington on December 15, 2018.
Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump thinks social media giants are biased against him. But there’s no evidence it’s true.

On Tuesday morning, Trump lashed out at Facebook, Twitter, and Google in a tweet, writing that the companies “are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous!”

“Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join @realDonaldTrump,” he added. “They have removed many names & greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!”

Trump’s claim that Twitter has “removed” followers of his appears to be a reference to Twitter’s ongoing efforts to remove bot accounts, including a campaign ahead of November’s midterm elections to purge automated accounts linked with efforts to discourage Democrats from voting.

In a statement sent to Vox following Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet, a Twitter spokesperson indicated Trump’s followers aren’t being targeted.

“Our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts to prevent malicious behavior. Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people,” the statement said.

Republicans have no evidence for their claims of bias — but that doesn’t stop them

Decrying social media bias has been a favorite pastime of Republicans this year. But when they’ve been challenged to provide evidence for their claims, it hasn’t gone well.

During a national TV interview, Donald Trump Jr. cited the fact Republicans complain about alleged bias more as evidence it’s a real thing. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly cited random Wikipedia edits as evidence Google is censoring Republicans. The president accused Facebook of bias despite the fact that conservative publishers dominate its market for news content.

Earlier this month, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani posted an unintentionally comical tweet accusing Twitter of allowing someone to “invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message.” In fact, Giuliani posted a typo that created a hyperlink that redirected to a website someone purchased with the message, “Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country.”

But instead of acknowledging his mistake, Giuliani concocted an evidence-free conspiracy theory to explain the embarrassing episode.

Emily Stewart contributed to this report.