Huge Tech is preventing to comprise Trump’s misinformation given the US vote
© Reuters. United States President Donald Trump holds a rally at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan
By Elizabeth Culliford, Jack Stubbs, and Raphael Satter
(Reuters) – Tech companies are trying to stem a surge in misinformation in US elections. President Donald Trump and his allies are using social media to falsely claim victory and make unsupported allegations of election fraud.
Trump’s allegations stem from the fact that some battlefield states are legally processing preliminary ballots and postal ballot papers. This process is taking longer than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is extraordinarily high.
The expanded count comes as no surprise, as is the move 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 supporters from making repeated attempts to flood the internet with unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, whose early leadership in states like Michigan and Wisconsin melted as the postal vote was counted.
Twitter (N 🙂 marked three of Trump’s most recent tweets, including one making a false claim about “surprise ballot boxes”, as potentially “misleading about an election or other civic process”. Facebook Inc. (O 🙂 also marked several contributions from the President as votes were still being counted.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The presidential posts – and those of his supporters – are a real-time test of Silicon Valley’s much touted rules for dealing with misinformation in elections and early victory claims. However, it is not clear whether the disclaimers and fact-checking that often occur after posts have been shared tens of thousands of times limit the spread of unsubstantiated claims.
The Election Integrity Project said that following Trump’s unsubstantiated claim to victory on Wednesday at 2:30 am, there was a marked increase in online conversations about election fraud, with verified Twitter users and supporters using the phrase “stop the steal”.
Even if the disclaimers curb the spread of misinformation on their platforms, they haven’t stopped other media outlets from reinforcing Trump’s comments. In Fox News, for example, Trump’s tweets were read verbatim, sometimes with no qualifications as to their accuracy.
Fox did not immediately return an email requesting a comment.
Social media companies were researched on how they quickly spread false information and abuse their platforms for election reasons. In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote, both vowed to act on posts from candidates trying to declare the early victory.
Attempts to monitor these statements began early Wednesday when Twitter hid a Trump tweet claiming “we’re big but they’re trying to steal the election” behind a label that said it was possibly misleading. The company also restricted users’ ability to share the post.
Facebook added a label to the same post that contained about 23,000 shares stating, “The final results may differ from the initial vote count as the ballot count will continue for days or weeks.”
A spokeswoman for Facebook said that unlike Twitter, it doesn’t limit the reach or sharing of flagged content. She also said it would not mark any premature claims to state victories, only the result of the presidential race.
Facebook said that following Trump’s premature victory claims, Trump started launching top-of-feed notifications on Facebook and its photo-sharing website Instagram to let users know that the votes were still being counted and not a winner was projected. It was said that with this information, automatic captions would also be applied to the positions of both candidates.
Twitter also pointed to early victory claims by state officials from both parties, as well as high profile social media accounts that reflected Trump’s early victory claim and unfounded allegations of fraud.
Congressman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, sent several tweets advancing the story that Democrats are “stealing” the elections. Their posts were later labeled by Twitter.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also shared tweets containing unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.
The president’s false claim to victory was also broadcast live on both platforms, with millions of votes still not counting. Biden earlier said he was confident of winning.
Facebook labeled the video, which had 9.1 million views on Wednesday morning, with a warning that the vote count could continue for days or weeks. The video had no label or warning on Twitter where it was posted by the Trump campaign and retweeted by the president.
Alphabet Inc (O 🙂 video service, YouTube, added a panel stating that results for election-related videos may not be final and directed users to do a Google search for the election results.