Donald Trump’s days of Tweeting misinformation unchecked are over. The Washington Post just did what should have been done years ago—add an automatic fact-checker to Trump’s Twitter.
The plug in was developed for the Google Chrome browser and was released by Philip Bump, who is a reporter at WaPo. Directly under Trump’s statements on Twitter, there is a gray box that simply declares, “This is incorrect or false,” with a sentence explaining why and a link. The fact-checking extension goes back to tweets from November and will be a beacon of truth in processing all of Trump’s misleading tweets in the future. A statement from WaPo declared the following, “our goal is to provide additional context where needed for Trump’s tweets moving forward (and a few golden oldies).”
As one of Trump’s most hated media outlets, Trump and WaPo have come to blows in the past. However, this is not a counter-move from the newspaper. Bump wrote on Twitter that he had just come up with the idea for the extension, “this morning.” Trump has called the media outlet, “phony and dishonest,” as well as having, “incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting.” Trump even took away WaPo’s press credentials, as a way to hugely damage the paper. But now it seems WaPo will have the last laugh—through the plugin they will be able to invalidate all of Trump’s ramblings as exactly that; valueless rants of a narcissist that are ungrounded in reality. Perhaps the most brilliant part of this is that the plugin will take down Trump through Twitter, which he has grown so attached to. It is his way to self-publish without any checks or review, but WaPo has put a stop to that. Trump will now have to be accountable for the tweets he shares in the middle of the night (doubtful) or be called out on his lies, literally right underneath them.
The plug in provides more context but is not overwhelming, so that if users want to find out more information they can click through to an entire article, or just see Trump’s claim undone in a sentence or so. The Washington Post announced on their website that the tool is still in the early phases, and that they are encouraging everyone to get involved to take down Trump, together: “It takes a little while for the Chrome extension to update, so we’ll try to stay up to speed on fact-checking what Trump is tweeting, but it may take a few minutes. This is a work in progress, so don’t hesitate to offer feedback and thoughts. And don’t hesitate to point to Trump tweets that could use a little explication. That’s the goal, after all.”
This is not Philip Bump’s first hugely accurate jab at Trump through programming. He is also responsible for another extension on Chrome known as “Add the Trump Tariff,” which adjusts all pricing on Amazon according to the change in taxes that Trump has campaigned on, so that goods from overseas would become grossly more expensive. Above the item, it begins, “If Trump had his way, this product might cost $839.97 more,” and continues with the reasoning behind the tax increase, in this case over a refrigerator: “Trump wants a 35 percent tariff to bring it back to the U.S.,” with the glaring price difference, “That would make the product cost $839.97 more.”
Bump’s plugin-offerings help keep Trump in-check but the real issue is whether or not his blind supporters will finally open their eyes and realize their president-elect is not a real populist; Donald Trump is not a man of the people. He will say anything that benefits him, he does not care if what he is saying is factual or not. He operates totally on his own agenda. It is up to all Democrats and rejectors of Trump to put a stop to his madness, even if it begins with holding him accountable for his angry, thoughtless tweets.
Christine is an avid supporter of progressive politics. She is currently getting her Masters degree after concentrating in Gender Studies as an undergrad.