Facebook, Twitter plan to warn you if politicians prematurely declare victory
As Americans turn to mail-in ballots to cast their votes amid the coronavirus pandemic, it could be unclear who the winners are on Tuesday night. Social networks, though, are preparing for the possibility that politicians could declare victory before the results are projected. President Donald Trump reportedly told confidants he’ll declare victory on election night if it appears like he’s ahead, Axios reported on Sunday. Facebook and Twitter both created new labels to warn users that the votes are still being counted and plan to direct users to authoritative information.
On Monday, the social network showed what the labels will look like. The labels will appear below posts that jump the gun on declaring who won.
Twitter’s labels will appear in blue and display an exclamation mark. One of the labels states “Official sources called this election differently.” Another label says “Official sources may not have called the race when this was tweeted.”
Facebook’s labels will appear in black print below posts that include premature victory claims. “Votes are being counted. The winner of the 2020 US Presidential Election has not been projected. See Election updates,” the label on Facebook will read. A similar label on Facebook-owned Instagram will say “Votes are being counted. The winner of the 2020 US Presidential Election has not been projected.”
Facebook said it will rely on the National Election Pool/Edison via Reuters, the Associated Press and six “independent decision desks at major media outlets to determine when a presidential winner is projected.”
The labels look similar to notices that users see for other types of misinformation, including statements about the coronavirus. It’s also unclear how well these labels work. Social networks have struggled to. They also face allegations from conservatives that they’re trying to swing the election. Facebook and Twitter have repeatedly denied these claims.
A study released this year by MIT found that labeling false news could result in users believing stories that hadn’t gotten labels even if they contained misinformation. The MIT researchers call this unintended consequence the “implied truth effect.”