Nov 8, 2020 - Technology

Twitter pares back some election labels after race is called

Trump Twitter account
Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP

President Donald Trump continued to falsely claim victory and spread baseless theories about voter fraud on Twitter Saturday after former Vice President Joe Biden became the president-elect, but Twitter took more aggressive action on some of his untrue tweets than others.

Driving the news: Early Saturday, four consecutive Trump tweets about the election were greyed out and labeled as misleading, making them harder to share and view. After the election was called, his subsequent false tweets were flagged, but Twitter declined to take more aggressive action.

  • In his latest flagged tweets, Trump falsely said he won the election by "a lot" and that Republican observers were not allowed to watch vote-counting and "bad things happened." The flags said "Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted" and "This claim about election fraud is disputed."
  • Trump and his allies have been steadily spreading disinformation on Twitter and other social media platforms about the election and voting all week.

What they're saying: "With the election now called by multiple sources per our public guidelines, we will no longer apply warnings on Tweets commenting on the election outcome," a Twitter spokesperson told Axios. "We will continue to apply labels to provide additional context on Tweets regarding the integrity of the process and next steps where necessary. This action is in line with our Civic Integrity Policy."

  • The spokesperson added: "Because the race is called per own internal guidelines, these are the labels people will now see under our Civic Integrity Policy. The additional warnings and engagement restrictions were designed for use before the election was called. Our other Twitter Rules will apply as standard."

On Facebook, Trump's post saying he won the election is labeled with a tag that says Biden is the president-elect.

On YouTube, the platform's election information results panel cites the AP calling the election for Biden.

Between the lines: The president and his team have proven adept at testing and exploiting the limits of social media polices. This past week, for example, after seeing their tweets restricted, they took to posting pictures of campaign statements rather than tweeting text to avoid being labeled.

Our thought bubble: It's unclear why the fact that the election is called means labels should be looser, even if that's been Twitter's policy all along. Misinformation is running rampant as the president continues to goad his supporters into thinking the results were a fraud.


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