Twitter and Facebook late on Monday both flagged posts by President Donald Trump that claimed a US supreme court decision on mail-in voting in Pennsylvania would lead to “rampant” fraud and was “very dangerous”.
Twitter hid the president’s tweet, sent the day before the US presidential election, behind a label which said the content was “disputed” and “might be misleading”.
Trump and his Republican allies have repeatedly said, without evidence, that mail-in votes are prone to fraud, although election experts say that is rare in US elections. Trump’s tweet also said the supreme court’s decision would “induce violence in the streets”.
Social media companies are under pressure to curb misinformation on their platforms ahead of the US election. Twitter has labelled or put warnings on tweets from Trump multiple times this year for violating its rules.
Twitter also prevented users from retweeting or replying to the post, allowing only “quote tweets”. It said the tweets will also not be algorithmically recommended by its systems.
The Election Integrity Partnership, which tweeted that Twitter took action about 40 minutes after Trump’s tweet was sent, said would “be wise” to pick up the pace.
“Twitter’s action effectively stopped the tweet’s spread. However, it had already been retweeted 55K+ times and favourited 126K+ times. This is as much or more reach than most other tweets put out by @realDonaldTrump today,” the research group tweeted.
The US supreme court last week allowed extended deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots in Tuesday’s election in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, states pivotal to Trump’s re-election chances.
The decision let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s top court allowing mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later to be counted.
Facebook added a disclaimer to Trump’s post, which had been shared 4 200 times, saying that voting by mail and voting in person have a “history of trustworthiness” in the US, with voter fraud being extremely rare.
Facebook also labelled a Fox News video posted by Trump in which he talked about “cheating” in Pennsylvania with the same message. — Reported by Elizabeth Culliford and Bhargav Acharya, (c) 2020 Reuters