Twitter tightens rules to thwart election threats

Twitter and other social media giants have been under scrutiny over their role in spreading election misinformation in 2016
Twitter and other social media giants have been under scrutiny over their role in spreading election misinformation in 2016

Twitter said Friday it will take down calls for violence starting after polls close on US election day and slap warnings on premature victory claims to fight efforts to undermine the election.

When it comes to a winner in any race, Twitter will require an announcement by an election official or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets making independent election calls.

The California tech giant will also invite people to add their thoughts to retweets instead of just mindlessly sharing, according to legal lead Vijaya Gadde and product lead Kayvon Beykpour.

The platform, a favorite method of communicating for President Donald Trump, will also broaden its application of warning labels for misleading tweets by candidates leading up to election day on November 3.

"Twitter plays a critical role around the globe by empowering democratic conversation, driving , facilitating meaningful political debate, and enabling people to hold those in power accountable," Gadde and Beykpour said in a blog post.

"But we know that this cannot be achieved unless the integrity of this critical dialogue on Twitter is protected from attempts—both foreign and domestic—to undermine it."

Social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter have been in the spotlight since massive disinformation campaigns directed by Russian intelligence and other malign actors overshadowed the 2016 election.

Applying existing protocol, Twitter will label tweets that falsely claim a win and will remove "tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with or the smooth operation of polling places."

Twitter forbids posts that manipulate or interfere with elections, and the platform already adds labels to tweets that violate rules against doctored media or misleading information concerning voting or Covid-19.

Beginning next week, people who try to retweet posts deserving warning labels because of misleading information will be shown a prompt directing them to credible facts about the topic first, according to the blog post.

"These new prompts will give individuals more context on labeled tweets so they can make more informed decisions on whether or not they want to amplify them to their followers," Gadde and Beykpour said.

Twitter will also start adding warnings and restrictions on tweets labeled as containing misleading information when they are from US political figures including candidates and campaign accounts.

The same will be done with misleading tweets from US-based accounts with more than 100,000 followers, or that spark significant engagement.

"We have already increased the size and capacity of our teams focused on the US and will have the necessary staffing to respond rapidly to issues that may arise on Twitter on Election night and in the days that follow," Gadde and Beykpour said.

© 2020 AFP

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