In the closing weeks of the presidential election, there have been a series of controversies involving the social media network Twitter. The company has blocked some posts and added fact-checking warnings about others, by both President Trump and other political figures associated with him. In addition, Twitter later blocked distribution of a story in the New York Post about a laptop belonging to Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
That last controversy got Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hauled before Congress last week, along with the heads of Facebook and Google. Twitter has also began requiring those wishing to retweet posts to go straight to the quote-tweet screen, which has led more than one elected official to tweet, erroneously, that this change was directed at them personally.
Now, the day before Election Day, Twitter has announced the moves it will make to stop the dissemination of misinformation related to the presidential campaigns. In a blog post Monday, which updated an earlier post from last month, the company shared its last-minute plans for Election Day.
“We do not allow anyone to use Twitter to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes, and recently expanded our civic integrity policy to address how we’ll handle misleading information surrounding these events,” Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour wrote in the post.
“Under this policy, we will label Tweets that falsely claim a win for any candidate and will remove Tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with election results or the smooth operation of polling places.”
The post adds that “people on Twitter, including candidates for office, may not claim an election win before it is authoritatively called.” The original post had said that “authoritatively called” meant either a call by state election officials or national news outlets, and the update named several such outlets: ABC News, the Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News and NBC News. The election officials, per Twitter, must be those determined by National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors.
The blog post does not mention any particular candidate in either of its versions, although it follows a report by Axios on Sunday that President Trump has told confidants that he plans to declare victory on Election night if he appears to be ahead in the votes counted by that point. Should the president, or any other candidate, do that, they won’t be able to do it on Twitter.
The post also says that “beginning on election night through the inauguration, we will label some Tweets that make claims about election results. We will be prioritizing the presidential election and other highly contested races where there may be significant issues with misleading information.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.