There is NO WAY (ZERO!) That Mail-In polls will be anything less than significantly deceptive. Email boxes will be robbed, ballot boxes are forged and even illegally printed and fraudulently signed. The governor of California sends votes to millions of people, anyone …
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
Tweets, said Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough, “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around post-in polls.”
…. living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. It will be followed up by professionals who tell all these people, many of whom have not even thought about voting before, how and for whom to vote. This will be a rigged choice. Never!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
In a statement, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said: “We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to prevent and disrupt President Trump from getting his message to voters. Collaborating with the biased fake news media “fact checks” is just a smoke screen that Twitter uses to try to give its obvious political tactics some false credibility.
For its 14-year existence, Twitter has enabled misinformation from world leaders and everyday citizens to spread virtually uncontrollably. Its leaders have long said that users would participate in debate about the platform and correct false information on their own.
But Trump has made dozens of false statements on social media, especially on his preferred medium on Twitter, and has also attacked people in ways that critics have claimed can violate the company’s policy of harassment and bullying.
For example, Twitter met with a criticism earlier Tuesday over another set of Trump tweets. Widowed after a former employee of the then rope. Joe Scarborough asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delete tweets from Trump to promote a baseless conspiracy theory about staff deaths. These tweets are still up, a reflection of an approach to police content that may seem inconsistent or incremental even when companies have increased their enforcement.
The company is debating whether to take action on Scarborough tweets, says a person familiar with the discussions who was not authorized to speak publicly about the deliberations.
Its much larger rival Facebook, on the other hand, launched a fact-checking program several years ago. Facebook finances an army of third party fact checks to examine content, which is then tagged on the site and dismantled within reach. However, Trump posted the same content about post-in polls on Facebook. Facebook did not answer a question whether it would tag or remove it.
Twitter, which has about 330 million users compared to Facebook’s 2.6 billion, has not had the resources or institutional willingness to engage fact-checkers.
But Twitter has changed its attitude during the pandemic. In March, the company revised its terms of service to say that it would remove posts by anyone, even world leaders, if such posts went “against the guidance of authoritative sources on global and public health information.” It includes comments claiming that social distancing is ineffective or essential oils may e.g. used to cure the disease.
Shortly after, for the first time, Twitter applied the policy to world leaders, removed tweets from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and claimed that tweets about breaking social distance orders and investigating fake cures had such a potential for harm from labeling them would be insufficient.
In March, Twitter noticed a manipulated video of the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden retweeted by Trump. In the same month, Facebook took down a misleading advertisement about the US census. One of two times that Facebook has taken action against the Trump campaign.
Earlier this month, Twitter launched a new policy saying it would label or provide warning messages about covid-related misinformation, even if that information is not a direct contradiction by health authorities and does not violate company policy. The company said at the time that it could extend the labels to other problem areas, such as other types of health-related flaws or other situations where there is a risk of injury. Tuesday’s election tweets represent an expansion into a new area of election-related misinformation.
The label guides users to CNN, Washington Post and Hill articles, along with sample selections and a page summarizing the results of fact checks.
As a matter of policy, Twitter and other tech companies hold world leaders by standards other than everyday users. The content of the world’s leaders is maintained by Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube, although it violates company policy, a practice known as “news value exception.”
This policy has long been the subject of criticism because comments from world leaders can have a huge impact on people’s behavior and the potential to cause harm. President Trump’s recent marketing of the drug hydroxychloroquine as an experimental treatment for covid, for example, boosted prescription and drug sales.
If Trump had instructed people to take the drug directly, the explanation would probably have been taken down by both Facebook and Twitter, according to people working there who were not authorized to speak publicly. Instead, the president walked a fine line, promoting the benefits of the drug and saying he took it himself.
The World Health Organization has stopped studies of the drug out of concern because it causes more harm than good.
Cat Zakrzewski contributed to this report.