- Tucker Carlson announced Tuesday that his show would be airing on Twitter.
- Elon Musk responded by saying anything misleading would be flagged by community notes.
- Carlson was often flagged by fact-checkers for sidestepping the truth while hosting on Fox News.
Tucker Carlson is moving his show from a traditional broadcasting outlet to Twitter where he will be subject to the social media platform’s fact-checking force, Community Notes.
The conservative TV host, who built a loyal following on a brand of alarmist and at times, extremist views, announced on Tuesday that he’ll bring a “new version” of his show to Twitter in an attempt to combat what he described as “thinly disguised propaganda outlets” on cable news.
Following Carlson’s announcement, Twitter CEO Elon Musk said the show will be marked for any misleading information through Community Notes — a feature that relies on an aggregation of user ratings to determine if a fact-check is helpful. A clarifying message appears underneath a tweet for public view if enough contributors “from different points of view” rate the note as helpful, according to Twitter’s guide.
“On this platform, unlike the one-way street of broadcast, people are able to interact, critique and refute whatever is said,” Musk said. “And, of course, anything misleading will get @CommunityNotes.”
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2023
Assuming Musk doesn’t introduce changes to Twitter that may cater to certain viewpoints, Carlson’s shift to a platform with a built-in fact-checking feature could be an issue for the notorious offender of misleading information.
Days after the 2020 election, for example, Carlson falsely claimed that “electronic voting machines didn’t allow people to vote” in Maricopa County, Arizona. In July 2021, he continued to sow doubt around the election result, claiming “there actually was meaningful voter fraud in Fulton County, Georgia.”
Similar messages claiming election fraud that were platformed on Fox News led to the blockbuster defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which Fox settled for $787.5 million.
Court records revealed how Carlson privately doubted and raised frustrations around election fraud claims. But his show and other anchors on the channel rarely reflected those misgivings. In contrast, Fox News anchors make a habit of railing against and mocking “fact checkers.”
In a separate slander lawsuit filed against the network, Fox’s lawyers successfully argued that viewers should understand that Carlson is not “stating actual facts.” A federal judge concurred with the lawyers, dismissing the suit and stating that no “reasonable viewer” should take him seriously.
Carlson didn’t specify what his new show will look like on Twitter. There’s also no guarantee that he’ll consistently be scrutinized by a fact check. Not every piece of misleading or false information on the platform is publicly marked by a Community Note.
The feature relies on users who signed up to be a contributor to rate “in good faith” the helpfulness of a note that might add more context to a tweet, for example. Twitter also takes into account the users’ previous rating history to determine if they “seem to come from different perspectives.” When enough people from different points of view rate a note as “helpful,” the Community Note will appear, according to Twitter.
“If people who typically disagree in their ratings agree that a given note is helpful, it’s probably a good indicator the note is helpful to people from different points of view,” Twitter’s guide states.
In addition, data behind Community Notes show that the feature sometimes marks a tweet as a “personal opinion,” concluding that a note is not necessary.
When a note does appear on a tweet, it often comes with citations from “reliable sources” — sometimes relying on Wikipedia or the very mainstream media outlets that Carlson and Musk often take aim at.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2023
Musk did not respond to a detailed list of questions about how Community Notes operates. Carlson’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Musk himself has been prey for misinformation on the platform, despite his purported mission statement to make Twitter “the most accurate source of information about the world.”
On Friday, the Twitter CEO responded to a chart that was tweeted by an account called “End Wokeness.” It suggested the media has an anti-white bias and focuses on “White On Black” crime. The tweet appeared to respond to the media coverage of the death of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old homeless Black man who died after ex-Marine Daniel Penny, who is white, put him in a chokehold.
“Odd, why would the media misrepresent the real situation to such an extreme degree?” Musk wrote, appearing to accept the information presented by the chart.
The graph, which first appeared on the conservative media site, The Blaze, in 2019, excluded several other statistics, including “White on White” and “Black on Black” crime, Judd Legum wrote in his Popular Information newsletter. Studies have also shown that media bias against criminal defendants who are people of color continues to persist.
The graph was viewed 17.4 million times and liked by more than 152,000 users as of Thursday.
A Community Notes suggestion did not appear below the tweet.