Trump's voter fraud tweets are first to be labelled 'potentially misleading' on Twitter

A blue link underneath the President's tweets take users to a Twitter Moment with fact-checking from CNN and the Washington Post

Adam Smith
Wednesday 27 May 2020 12:47 BST
Trump is set on branding Biden as a corrupt member of the Washington establishment and himself as an insurgent problem-solver, as he did Hilary Clinton
Trump is set on branding Biden as a corrupt member of the Washington establishment and himself as an insurgent problem-solver, as he did Hilary Clinton (Getty)

Twitter has labelled two tweets from US president Donald Trump as “potentially misleading” for the first time, as the President falsely called postal voting “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed”.

Under the tweets, Twitter added a link that says: “Get the facts about mail-in ballots”. That link takes Twitter users to a Moment page with fact-checked articles from CNN and the Washington Post, among others. A ‘Moment’ is a collection of tweets from multiple users about a single subject that can be easily read through and shared as a group.

In a statement, Twitter said that Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labelled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”

Twitter also said the application of a fact-checking label to the president's tweets was an extension of its new “misleading information” policy, introduced earlier this month to combat misinformation about the coronavirus.

It said at the time that it would later extend the COVID-19 policy to other types of disputed or misleading information.

The social media company has previously deleted tweets by the presidents of Brazil and Venezuela which violated its coronavirus rules.

In response, the President tweeted that Twitter was “completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”

Private companies, such as social media companies, are not bound by the First Amendment, which states that the US government will make no law prohibiting the exercise of speech or the right to assemble, despite their existence as a de-facto public space.

Trump posted the same text about mail-in ballots on his official Facebook page, where the post received 170,000 reactions and was shared 17,000 times.

Facebook’s policy is to remove content that misrepresents methods of voting or voter registration, but did not take action on Donald Trump’s post. “We believe that people should be able to have a robust debate about the electoral process, which is why we have crafted our policies to focus on misrepresentations that would interfere with the vote,” a Facebook spokesman said.

President Trump also shared a conspiracy theory which accused an MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of playing a part in the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis. Timothy Klausutis, the widower of the late Ms Klausutis, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking for the company to remove the tweets.

Twitter did not remove the tweets. In a statement, it said: “We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family.”

This is not the first time that Donald Trump has had his tweets flagged by the social media site. In March, Donald Trump posted an edited video of his Democratic rival for the presidency Joe Biden which appeared to show Biden stumbling over his words.

Twitter added a ”manipulated media" label to the tweet, however the new label was not showing for all users.

Twitter has often been called to remove the President from its platform, such as in 2018 when he effectively threatened North Korea with nuclear war via a tweet. The company said that it would not remove the President, because “blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate”.

“It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions," it said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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