Oct 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Twitter will flag premature claims about who won the 2020 election

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter said Friday it would be making a slew of significant new product and enforcement changes to help clamp down on misinformation leading up to the election.

Why it matters: It's the most aggressive set of changes that Twitter has rolled out to date to curb election-related misinformation on its platform.

Details: Twitter said that beginning next week, it would officially take action on tweets that claim an election win before it's authoritatively called.

  • Twitter will require either an announcement from state election officials, or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets that make independent calls.
  • Tweets that include premature claims will be labeled and will direct users to Twitter's official U.S. election page, the tech giant said.
  • Tweets meant to incite interference with the election process or with the implementation of election results — such as through violent action —will be subject to removal.

The tech giant will also be labeling more tweets.

  • Beginning next week, it will prompt users to seek credible information about a topic if they try to retweet a tweet with a misleading information label on it.
  • In addition to those prompts, it will add additional warnings and restrictions on tweets with a misleading information label from U.S. political figures, and U.S.-based accounts with more than 100,000 followers, or accounts that have significant engagement. Users will have to tap through a warning to see those tweets.
  • Users will only be able to quote tweet those tweets. Likes, retweets and replies will be turned off, and these tweets won’t be algorithmically recommended by Twitter.

Between the lines: The tech giant is also rolling out three new updates on October 20 to make sure misinformation about results won't spread. These updates are temporary, but do to the unusual nature of the election, Twitter says it doesn't know yet when these changes will be lifted.

  1. Twitter says it will encourage people to add their own commentary to retweets, via a "quote tweet" prior to amplifying content. This has been something that the firm has openly discussed tested for some time.
  2. It will prevent “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people that users don’t follow from showing up in their timeline. Twitter says it won't send notifications for these tweets to ensure that people don't pile onto conversations going viral. They hope this will curb misinformation from spreading.
  3. Twitter says it will only surface trends in the “For You” tab in the United States that includes additional context, meaning it will include a description tweet or article "that represents or summarizes why that term is trending."

The big picture: Twitter has been credited for taken swift and more decisive action on political misinformation this cycle than last. Most notably, the tech giant announced last year that it would ban political advertising, a move that was followed by major political advertising changes by some of its peers.

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