NEWS12 October 2020

Twitter targets misinformation ahead of US elections

News North America Technology US Election

US – Twitter has made changes to its platform in the build-up to next month’s US presidential elections in an attempt to stop the spread of misinformation.

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The platform said it would attach warning labels onto tweets that provided misleading information to voters on election night, such as falsely claiming a win for any candidate. The election will take place on 3rd November.

Candidates will not be allowed to claim victory unless it is authoritatively called, which means state election officials or two authoritative, national news outlets would need to make an announcement before a candidate could claim victory on Twitter.

Any tweets that call for violence or call for interference with the election will be removed, the company confirmed.

Twitter already includes prompts with links to credible information sources on tweets that are deemed to include misleading information, and the company has said that retweets of topics including misleading information will now also be labelled.

US political figures who post misleading information will force followers to tap through a warning before they can see the tweet, and followers will be unable to like, retweet or reply. Twitter will not algorithmically recommend tweets with those restrictions in place.

The company will try to encourage people to use its quote tweets tool rather than simply retweet, so people can add their own thoughts and perspectives and consider why they are promoting the tweet.

Twitter will also prevent ‘liked by’ or ‘followed by’ recommendations from people users do not know from showing up on their timeline.

Trending tweets will also have a description of why a term is trending in the ‘for you’ tab, to ensure context is provided as to why people are discussing an issue.

The changes follow recent alterations by Facebook, including banning new political adverts in the week before the US election.

“Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation, and we encourage candidates, campaigns, news outlets and voters to use Twitter respectfully and to recognize our collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process this November,” Twitter said in a statement.

“As with any other product change, we will learn, observe, and iterate based on the impact of these changes, to inform both our strategy around future global elections and Twitter’s overall product experience.”