Twitter Adds Last-Minute Content Restrictions Ahead Of US Elections

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The White House. Image credit: US government

Twitter bars premature post-eleection declarations of victory, slaps restrictions on misleading content posted by US politicians

Twitter has introduced further restrictions on content ahead of the US elections set to take place on 3 November, saying it will prevent users from prematurely announcing a victory, as well as measures intended to slow the spread of misinformation.

Tweets that claim a win before the official results are out are to receive a warning label, Twitter said.

It added that messages that incite interference with the election, “such as through violent action”, are to be removed.

The social network said it would only allow users to announce an election victory following an announcement from state election officials, or a public projection from at least two national news outlets that make independent election calls.

Misinformation

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been under pressure over their use to spread misinformation since the 2016 US presidential election.

More recently, both platforms have begun taking stronger action over posts that include misinformation on Covid-19 or that incite racial violence.

Twitter also announced new measures designed to slow the spread of misinformation through retweets or algorithmic recommendations.

The company is already labelling certain posts as misleading, but starting this week will add a prompt to such posts linking to “credible” information.

The prompts will give users “more context” on messages with warning labels, Twitter said.

The company is also placing new restrictions on labelled tweets from prominent accounts, including US political figures, US accounts with more than 100,000 followers or those with “significant engagement”.

Such posts will now bear a warning label that users will have to tap through before they can quote the message, while likes, retweets and replies will be turned off and the messages won’t be algorithmically recommended by Twitter.

“We expect this will further reduce the visibility of misleading information, and will encourage people to reconsider if they want to amplify these tweets,” Twitter said.

Restrictions

The company said it is also introducing temporary restrictions on  retweeting content, beginning on 20 October and extending “at least the end of election week in the US”.

The restrictions will prompt users to quote messages rather than simply retweeting them, in an effort to get users to add their own commentary before spreading information to others.

Twitter said it would also decrease the visibility of “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people users don’t follow, as well as Trends in the “For You” tab in the US that don’t include additional context.

The company said it would review these temporary measures after US election week to consider whether they were still necessary.

The moves are likely to add fuel to the an ongoing feud between Twitter and US president Donald Trump, who has criticised the company for labelling his tweets as misleading or removing them.

The restrictions come as Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg are scheduled to testify before the Senate commerce committee within the next few weeks as part of a review of Section 230, a 1996 law that gives such companies immunity from lawsuits over content they publish.

Trump initiated the review after accusing Twitter of censorship and bias.

Facebook and Google are also introducing content restriction policies ahead of the US elections.

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