Twitter and Facebook fail to corralize Trump’s misinformation about the US vote count.
As US President Donald Trump and his allies flooded social media Wednesday with false claims of victory and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, social media companies warned users that the presidential election had yet to be decided. .
The publications in Twitter, Facebook and other sites are imposing a real-time test of Silicon Valley highly touted rules on the handling of elections disinformation and premature claims of victory.
But it’s unclear whether disclaimers and fact-checks, which often occur long after posts have been shared tens of thousands of times, are curbing the circulation of unsubstantiated claims. And in the case of Facebook, the staff rewrote the rules on state wins on the fly.
Critics say that, in environments explicitly created to promote instant sharing and viral posting, soft disclaimers aren’t enough.
“We are on the edge of the abyss,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-executive director of advocacy group Free Press. He said Facebook needed to end “disinformation about our democracy” rather than simply pointing it out.
“We are testing our experiment in democracy, and Facebook has not done well so far,” González said.
Unfounded and false claims have evolved throughout the day. Initially, Triumph said he had won (he has not). He then said that unanticipated mail ballots were appearing out of nowhere (in fact, they were long overdue). More recently, the Trump campaign claimed that Pennsylvania had won (where votes are still being counted.)
The claims come as Trump’s leadership in the battle states has evaporated as more ballots are counted in Michigan and Wisconsin, a process that has taken longer than usual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and extraordinarily high turnout. Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe biden Wisconsin and Michigan are projected to win.
The extended recount is not a surprise, and neither was the belated switch to Trump’s opponent Joe Biden, which was widely predicted in the run-up to the vote, including by Reuters. That didn’t stop Trump and his followers from repeatedly trying to flood the internet with unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
Twitter flagged three of Trump’s latest tweets, including one that made a false claim about “surprise ballots,” as potentially “misleading about an election or other civic process.” He also tagged statements by Trump’s son Eric and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany who proclaimed victory in Pennsylvania with the disclaimer that “official sources may not have called for the contest when tweeted this. ”
Facebook also flagged several posts by the president because votes were still being counted.
Even if the disclaimers are curbing the spread of misinformation on their platforms, they haven’t stopped other outlets from amplifying Trump’s comments or his claims jumping from one platform to another.
On Fox News, Trump’s tweets were read literally Wednesday, sometimes with no qualifications about their veracity. And on the video sharing site Tik Tok, a group called the Republican Hype House shared a video with a false claim that Michigan found 138,000 ballots in a lake.
TikTok said the video was later removed for violating its policy against misleading information. Fox did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Social media companies have come under scrutiny over how they control the rapid spread of false information and election-related abuse of their platforms. In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote, the two vowed to take action on the positions of candidates attempting to declare an early victory.
Attempts to monitor those remarks began early Wednesday, when Twitter hid a tweet from Trump saying “we’re BIG, but they’re trying to STEAL the election” behind a tag saying it was potentially misleading. The company also restricted users’ ability to share the post.
Facebook added a tag to the same post, which had about 25,000 shares, saying that “the final results may be different from the initial vote counts as the vote count will continue for days or weeks.”
Facebook said that following Trump’s untimely victory claims, it had started posting notifications to the top of the net on Facebook and its photo-sharing site. Instagram tell users that votes are still being counted and that no winner has been projected. He said automatic tags were also being applied to both candidates’ posts with this information.