May 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets for first time

In this image, Trump wears a tie and speaks to reporters
President Trump briefs reporters in the Rose Garden on May 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to "get the facts" through news stories that cover the topic.

Why it matters: Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the president.

  • Twitter's new approach of labeling misleading tweets was detailed in a blog post about misinformation and the coronavirus earlier this month.
  • Twitter spokesperson Lindsay McCallum said Trump's tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”

The big picture: Twitter said on Tuesday it would not remove Trump's tweets that baselessly accused MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering a congressional staffer in 2001.

  • Twitter issued a statement saying it was "deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family."
"The Scarborough Tweets are not violative of our policies and we've drawn lines for certain issue areas, including civic integrity and voting. However, as we said on the Scarborough Tweets, we've been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly."
— Twitter spokesperson

Driving the news: Trump has accused Democrats of trying to rig the 2020 presidential election by expanding mail-in voting access to Americans — a measure intended to enforce social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Last week, Trump briefly threatened to withhold unspecified funding to Nevada and Michigan after both states announced plans to expand voting-by-mail options.

What they're saying: "We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters," Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

  • "Partnering with the biased fake news media 'fact checkers' is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.
  • "There are many reasons the Trump campaign pulled all our advertising from Twitter months ago, and their clear political bias is one of them."

Go deeper: FEC commissioner recommends voting by mail to safeguard against coronavirus

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