On the 26th May, Twitter labeled two tweets from United States President Donald Trump as “potentially misleading”. This is the first time Twitter has fact-checked the president, after announcing last month that they would remove tweets making unverified claims that could “incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder”.
The label is an icon with an exclamation point, and was imposed on two tweets Trump posted Tuesday morning falsely claiming that “mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent” and would result in “a rigged election”. Users can click on the label to find verified facts and articles regarding mail-in ballots.
The tweets focused primarily on California’s efforts to expand mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to a Twitter spokesperson, Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots”.
Twitter says that the move is in line with their new policy aimed at “limiting the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content”, the same policy did not apply to tweets from the president earlier this month claiming that hydroxychloroquine has been ‘proven to effectively treat COVID-19’. While Malaysia is still using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients, experts are still studying how to prevent existing side effects and avoid high dosage.
This move by Twitter has naturally sparked another pair of angry tweets by Trump. He tweets that Twitter is “now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and that “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH”.
Brad Parscale, Trump campaign manager, also responded to Twitter’s decision in a statement. He claims that Silicon Valley “would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters”.
“Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility,” he continues.
So far, the two of Trump’s most recent tweets about California are the only ones to receive this label. Last week, Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan because the state’s secretary of state sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters.
Hopefully, Twitter will continue fighting “potentially misleading” information on their platform.