That’s why Trump’s bickering with Twitter is a serious matter and affects all of us


History is gluttonous. Donald Trump, the king of tweet, the man who has 80.3 million followers, argues with Twitter. More: threatens to impose controls on social networks, if not to close it. All for a couple of micro-messages. In they Trump, who on November 3 is playing the White House with Joe Biden, criticized the idea of ​​having the vote “by mail on a large scale” to escape the Coronavirus risk, judging the remote vote as an open door to fraud and fraud . Twitter has affixed to Trump’s messages the words “potentially misleading”, with a link to various articles and materials on voting by mail.

It had never happened to a President of the United States of America before. But it is a question that, despite appearances, concerns us too. Trump claims that the vote by mail is unreliable. True or not? Reply: Yes and no. Experts say that in fact, when voting in the mail, there was no shortage of fraud. Also recently: in 1997 the mayor of Miami was re-elected by sending fictitious voter ballots to the polling stations. In 2018, a Wisconsin deputy managed to conquer the bench by going house to house to get blank ballot papers. They, too, experts say that voting in person is still safer. But they add that a fraud on a national scale such as that which would serve to get a President of the United States elected could not be discovered. And that in some American states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon) there has been a lot of voting, and for some time now, by mail without the number of frauds having increased.

The real point, however, is not this. Trump has every right to think and to say that the vote by mail is a disgrace, just as his rival Biden has to support the exact opposite. They are politicians, they express upolitical opinion and propagate political convenience. In fact, the usual experts explain something more clear: in the USA to go to vote you have to register on the electoral rolls, a procedure that the poorest and youngest often desert. Voting by post, it is thought, would encourage the participation of these categories, which are on average more prone to vote for Democrats. Hence the no of Republicans and Trump.

What is not understood, however, is what right and what authority has a private company like Twitter, Inc., which in 2018 made a net profit of $ 1.2 billion to stand as a judge of truth. Of course, the fact checking, verification of the facts. But of whom? The Twitter spokesmen, responding on the “Trump case”, did not want to specify who decided to “deny” the President nor did they say who assembled the materials, indicated by the link, which should offer readers the “true” interpretation of the controversy over voting by mail. And they have not confirmed or denied that everything was automatically generated by one of the usual algorithms that regulate the life of the Internet.

The fact cheking, therefore, risks turning into its opposite. Because of Trump I know the background of communicator and as a politician, I know what his electoral and personal interests are, I can at least imagine what are the reasons behind his statements. But what do I know about an algorithm? I’m not the one who planned it. And if instead to declare Trump wrong was an ordinary guy, maybe an intern paid four dollars, do I have to think that the “truth” comes from him?

As we said, the question concerns us. For at least two reasons. The first is the tendency, which has been widespread for many years, to believe that politics is less legitimate and reliable than any other instance. In short, caste. But who said that? Do we really still believe in the tale that the people are better than those who represent them? Trump, on the other hand, was elected by an America that felt perfectly represented by him. As well as all the politicians who, in the US, in Italy or elsewhere, reach the top with the vote and not on the tip of the bayonets. Which also explains why revolutions are no longer taking place, neither from the right nor from the left. And why the “vaffa” policy serves just to get to power by exploiting anti-caste sentiment, to be institutionalized in a hurry a moment after winning the elections.

The second is: are we really willing to rely on the benevolence of the algorithm or anonymous manager to decide what we want to think? IS is this the way out of the confusion of the millions of messages that reach us from all over thanks to, or because of, the new means of communication? Is this gray medium, only apparently error-proof, the state in which we want to live? Winston Smith’s words come back to mind: “Mental integrity has no relation to statistics.” Who was Winston Smith? The protagonist of “1984”, the extraordinary novel that George Orwell wrote in 1949 to tell the nightmare of the society governed by Big Brother. The entity that no one can see but which in turn sees everything and judges everyone.

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