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Twitter disables some features to fight misinformation ahead of election

Oct 9, 2020, 4:14 PM
Twitter features...
said it would disable some features temporarily, making it more difficult for users to mindlessly retweet misleading claims. (Credit: Shutterstock Via CNN)
(Credit: Shutterstock Via CNN)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — With just over three weeks before the 2020 election, Twitter is cracking down on the spread of misinformation on its platform. The social network company said it would disable some features temporarily, making it more difficult for users to mindlessly retweet misleading claims. 

The new regulations, announced Friday, are the most dramatic changes Twitter has announced since it began its efforts to monitor election news in 2018. 

“Twitter plays a critical role around the globe by empowering democratic conversation, driving civic participation, facilitating meaningful political debate, and enabling people to hold those in power accountable,” Twitter executives Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour said in a statement.

Twitter changes some features on platform

The changes will temporarily change how people interact with the platform. For example, Twitter will notify users with prompts before retweeting or sharing information from another account. 

When users go to retweet a post, the platform will automatically load the “Quote Tweet” feature — encouraging users to add commentary before sharing. That way, the social platform said it hopes to prompt users to think about the content they are sharing. 

Users will also be met with a prompt before retweeting links to news articles or outside posts. Twitter will notify users with a message that reads, “Headlines don’t tell the full story. You can read the article before Retweeting.”

Twitter will also label tweets containing misleading information or false claims, extending this policy to include election information. 

“Under this policy, we will label Tweets that falsely claim a win for any candidate,” Gadde and Beykpour wrote. “[We] will remove Tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with election results or the smooth operation of polling places.”

Twitter said it will rely on information from authoritative sources, state election officials or national news outlets for election results. The social platform will label tweets with premature victory calls and direct users to the official US election page. 

Twitter cracks down on misinformation

Twitter already cracks down on tweets that include misleading or false information — labeling tweets while users scroll through their feed. However, the social media platform will begin notifying users with prompts when they attempt to retweet misinformation. 

Twitter features

Twitter already cracks down on tweets that include misleading or false information — labelling tweets while users scroll through their feed. (Twitter)

Some of these prompts may read, “This is disputed.” Others add, “Help keep  Twitter a place for reliable info.” 

Twitter will also include additional restrictions on tweets from U.S. political figures or high-profile users — warning users about misinformation. 

For these, users must click through a warning before viewing the tweet. Retweets, replies and likes will be disabled for these tweets. 

Twitter will also remove these tweets from the algorithm. 

Trump campaign responds to changes

The changes have been met with some backlash, particularly from President Donald Trump — one of the most popular users on the platform. The president’s campaign reacted angrily Friday, calling it “extremely dangerous for our democracy.”

“The unelected liberal coastal elites of Silicon Valley are once again attempting to influence this election in favor of their preferred ticket by silencing the President and his supporters,” the campaign said in a statement.

Twitter has already added warnings and labels to tweets containing lies and falsehoods from elected officials — including President Trump. It has also cracked down on manipulated media, such as photos or videos intended to misinform viewers. 

The changes to the Twitter features will be temporary and are expected to return to normal after the Nov. 3 election. 

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