Twitter had gone over to mark fake news and false claims in his published tweets. In doing so, Twitter wanted to make it clear that Twitter was questioning the truth of some content.

This was also done to the successful Twitterer Donald J. Trump who has more than 85.5 million followers. He directly saw this as a censorship of his expression of opinion and threatened to abolish the previous freedom from liability for illegal content on the platforms.

This action would have fatal consequences and would be a dramatic deterioration in the legal position of the Internet platforms. Because if they were actually liable for illegal content of their users themselves, a change in business models and the introduction of upload filters would lead to the fear of a significant censorship of the content.

The question if Trump is able to do this constitutionally by presidential decree is not to be discussed here.

I also found the published position of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook on this issue extremely interesting. This becomes clear by the following statement of him: “I do not believe that Facebook and other platforms should be judges of truth!”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, responded: “I don’t want to judge the truth, I want to enable people to form a free opinion based on facts!

And right in the middle of all this, Donald J. Trump, who strongly believes that everything he says is true and factual.

I suppose it is worth thinking about the terms: fact, opinion and truth.

In the constitutional law of Western democracies, freedom of expression and freedom of the press are traditionally established as very high legal values.

In press law, a fundamental difference is made between opinion and fact in the form that facts are in principle accessible to objective, scientific proof. In contrast, an expression of opinion is characterized precisely by the fact that it is not verifiable, but rather is the result of an individual, intellectual, subjective process that is not subject to verification.

Fortunately, this broad definition of freedom of expression is consistently represented and protected by the Federal Constitutional Court. An evaluation of opinion in terms of content is forbidden, quite in keeping with Voltaire, the pioneer of the French Revolution and civil freedom.

Freedom of expression in the public space is exactly the right to express and say what others do not want to hear!

Legally problematic now is the definition of the concept of truth. Here we leave the justiciable constitutional right range and enter the philosophically, religiously shaped world view range.

The truth is to be classified as best as:

a verifiable fact in its most convincing form.

But if we look at it this way, then it is a verifiable fact and no longer a truth.

This means that when we speak of truth, it always contains an element of subjective confidence. For subjective belief, whether ideological or religious, is a characteristic of the definition of opinion in the constitutional sense. Strangely enough, we are dealing with a concept of truth that contains elements of fact as well as elements of the concept of opinion with its subjectivity.

This reminds me in an impressive way of a quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche, who described truth as something other-as something always also bipolar. “Pain is always a pleasure, curse always a blessing, night also a sun and a wise man also a fool[…]” (Source: So said Zarathustra p. 402)

After these realizations it remains to be stated surprisingly that one must quite agree with Donald J. Trump, when he says that everything he said is true. Nevertheless, this is only his own, individual, highly personal truth.

But if he claims facts, he cannot refuse the necessity to prove them.

This post is also available in: German