On Election Day, Twitter battles voting misinformation
Twitter is removing tweets that falsely suggest voters can cast ballots after Nov. 3, because the posts violate the social network’s rules.
Tweets containing the false claim that people can vote on Nov. 4 depending on their political party began popping up early Tuesday as Americans headed to the polls to choose between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Polls close on Tuesday.
The false tweets are an example of the type of misinformation social networks are scrambling to combat on Election Day. Social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have rules against posting content designed to suppress voting or intimidate people from casting their ballots. Twitter’s rules say it’ll label or remove false or misleading information about how to participate in an election.
Twitter has also been labeling and reducing the reach of tweets that contain unverified or false claims about voter fraud in Pennsylvania, a battleground state. The company labeled several tweets from Mike Roman, the Trump campaign’s director of Election Day operations, that contained misleading claims about voting. In one tweet that was labeled with a notice that states “Learn about US 2020 election security efforts,” Roman falsely claims that Democrat election officials are banning Trump poll watchers in Philadelphia. “The steal is on!,” he tweeted.
A poll watcher was denied access to one polling site in Philadelphia because of a misunderstanding about the law but was allowed into another site, PolitiFact reported. Zignal Labs, which analyzes data from social media and news outlets, said Tuesday that keywords related to “steal” or “stealing” including a hashtag that contain allegations that Democrats are trying to steal the election had more than 119,000 mentions today.
CNET found more than two dozen tweets that included claims that either Republicans or Democrats could vote on Wednesday. It’s unclear if the tweets are jokes or were designed to deceive voters. When asked if there was an exception for satire in Twitter’s rules against voter suppression, a company spokesman said Twitter will remove tweets that violate its rules. The company wouldn’t say how many of these tweets have been removed, but some of them remain online.
In one of the tweets that was pulled down, a user falsely claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had passed a bill giving Democrats an extra day to vote. The user urged Democrats to head to the polls on Wednesday instead of waiting in long lines on Election Day.
In another removed tweet, a user falsely claimed that Republicans are supposed to vote on Wednesday “in order to stop larger groups at the polls because of Covid.” Some of the tweets that are still up falsely state that Election Day was split into two days for one party.
Twitter wasn’t the only social network dealing with confusing messages about the voting deadline. Facebook-owned Instagram said that on Tuesday, some users saw a message reading “Tomorrow is Election Day.” The message, actually delivered on Monday, was in the app’s cache for a “small group of people” if they hadn’t restarted the app. The notice now reads “It’s the Last Day to Vote.”
Facebook didn’t respond to questions about how much voter suppression content it’s removed.
Government officials on Tuesday warned voters about receiving scam robocalls that urge voters to vote on Wednesday because of long lines. Facebook and Twitter also suspended several right-wing news accounts on Tuesday for violating its rules, Reuters reported.