On Tuesday, for the first time, Twitter labeled two of President Trump’s tweets as potentially misleading. The president tweeted that mail-in ballots for the presidential election in November would lead to voter fraud. Twitter attached a message to these tweets that linked to a fact-check page set up by the company. Many social media platforms are trying to stop the spread of misinformation. That is why they are developing features such as this one.
New Labels and Warnings
Twitter stated that Trump’s tweets did not violate any of the platform’s rules, since he did not discourage people from voting. But they did feel that they needed to offer context to the president’s claims. “These Tweets contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots,” Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough told CNN. “This decision is in line with the approach we shared earlier this month“.
Twitter has seen an increase in misinformation on the platform, mainly concerning Covid-19. They have therefore introduced labels and warnings that can provide additional information or clarifications. These will be used in situations where a tweet isn’t necessarily harmful, but people may be confused or misled by the content. This will apply to tweets sent before today as well.
Of course, Trump wasn’t happy about the fact that his tweet was labelled by the company. He therefore criticized the platform, as he has done before. The president said that the social media services would have to be strongly regulated or closed down, and accused the platform of election meddling. He then continued by stating again that it would be “a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots,” without showing any evidence for his claim. At the time of writing, this tweet was not labelled by the platform.
Republicans have long felt that social media platforms try to silence them. They felt like the social media platforms meddled in the 2016 elections as well. But since Trump won, he does conclude that they failed to do so. For now, we’ll ignore the fact that the whole Russian involvement hasn’t been cleared up yet.
Interestingly, Twitter users had very different complaints. Many of them said that they thought the measures did not go far enough. Some said that Twitter should have explicitly stated that Trump’s tweet contained false information. After all, his statements aren’t based on any evidence. And there isn’t any, since research has not resulted in proof that mail-in ballots lead towards voting fraud. Other users said that Twitter should have used a larger font for their disclaimer, so that people definitely can’t miss it when they scroll past the tweet.
Misleading Information on Social Networks
Twitter isn’t the only platform trying to fight the spread of misinformation. Other social media platforms, like Facebook, have seen a rise in misinformation as well. They are also trying their best to stop the spread of it.
About a month ago, Facebook introduced some features on WhatsApp that will help to stop the spread of misinformation. People can no longer mass-forward messages on the platform. This slows down the spread of misinformation significantly. Because of end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp, it is quite difficult for the company to see what information is factual, and what isn’t. They have to rely on their users to judge the authenticity of the information that is sent to them.
On their social media platform, Facebook combines artificial intelligence with human moderators and fact-checkers to make sure that the community standards are enforced. They try to find and delete as much violating content as possible. The company was criticized a lot after the 2016 election, because people felt that not enough harmful content was taken down. So the company has improved their processes so that they are (hopefully) ready for this year’s election season.