Aug 24, 2020 - Technology

Twitter and Facebook’s contrasting approaches to flagging Trump

Ina Fried

Twitter on Sunday flagged election-related misinformation from President Trump as violating platform rules, while Facebook took a softer approach.

Why it matters: It's the latest example of the stark contrast in how the two sites handle controversial posts from the president. The pressure on both companies is likely only to intensify as the presidential election draws closer.

Details: On Sunday, President Trump tweeted that ballot drop boxes are a "voter security disaster," claiming without evidence that they would pose a COVID-19 risk and "make it possible for a person to vote multiple times."

  • Twitter obscured the tweet from direct view, only letting users see it after they click through a warning message that the tweet "violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity" but that it may be in the public interest for it to stay online.
  • Facebook merely pointed people to its voting information center. The company started doing the same last month for all posts, true or false, from federally elected officials that mention voting in any way.

The big picture: Twitter has now taken similar action against a number of other Trump tweets, while Facebook has been much more lenient.

What they're saying: Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, praised Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for the company's action. "Drop boxes are a SAFE and SECURE method for voters to return their ballots in states where available," Clarke said in a tweet.

Between the lines: Criticism from both sides of the political aisle means that social networks are going to take heat no matter what they decide.

  • Critics on the right argue that any labeling of Trump's posts indicates political bias.
  • Those on the left say that by not banning or more aggressively labeling falsehoods, social networks are becoming weapons of misinformation.
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