In a tweet on Monday night, Trump stressed the need to have a final vote tally on the day of the general election, stating there are “big problems and discrepancies with mail-in ballots all over the USA,” reiterating previous complaints about potential flaws in universal distance voting. The post was soon appended with a notice warning users the tweet is “disputed” and “might be misleading,” directing them to a link explaining that “voting by mail is legal and safe,” citing a coterie of favored “experts.”
Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2020
Under Twitter’s new “civic integrity policy”updated in September, the platform said it would add labels to tweets “containing false or misleading information” about elections, or even reduce their visibility for other users – a form of “shadowbanning,” a practice the company has repeatedly renounced. Even before the new rule went into effect, Twitter previously ‘fact checked’ other election-related posts from the president, and attached a “misleading” label to another missive about the coronavirus earlier this month.
The company further bolstered its efforts to combat so-called disinformation on Monday, launching a new feature to preemptively debunk – or “pre-bunk” in the words of Twitter’s head of site integrity Yoel Roth – “common misleading claims” about the 2020 race, which apparently includes any form of skepticism about mail-in voting.
#Election2020 is unlike any other in US history. With so many more people voting by mail and potentially delayed results, starting today, we’ll show you prompts in your Home timeline and Search to help you stay informed on these critical topics. pic.twitter.com/OAtbnoa70W
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) October 26, 2020
We’re introducing “pre-bunks” for some of the most common misleading claims about #Election2020.
Research shows that getting ahead of misinformation is a powerful way to build resilience. Excited to see this application of inoculation theory in practice. https://t.co/O0bzCtNrVv
— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) October 26, 2020
The new “pre-bunk” alerts will be seen at the top of American users’ timelines and search pages, and will explain that they could encounter “misleading information about voting by mail,” again citing “election experts” to insist mail-in ballots are secure. The alerts also warn that “election results might be delayed,” noting this could cause confusion about who may have won the November 3 race after the polls close.
Though Twitter and its assorted ‘fact-checkers’ have repeatedly challenged claims that distance voting is linked to “fraud” in particular, Trump’s criticisms have gone beyond the narrow question of ballot-tampering. The president and others have also suggested the system will be susceptible to errors, as was seen during New York’s primary race this summer, which even the New York Times described as “botched.” With the “experts” preoccupied with allegations of fraud, however, those other concerns have largely gone ignored, and that appears set to continue as social media platforms move to purge any and all expression of doubt in the mail-in system.
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