Twitter recently updated its policies in advance of the U.S. elections to include specific rules that detailed how it would handle tweets making claims about election results before they were official. Today, the company offered more information about how it plans to prioritize the enforcement of its rules and how it will label any tweets that fall under the new guidelines.
In September, Twitter said it would either remove or attach a warning label to any premature claims of victory, with a focus on tweets that incite “unlawful conduct to prevent a peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession,” the company had explained.
This morning, Twitter added that it will prioritize labeling tweets about the presidential election and any other “highly contested races” where there may be significant issues with misleading information.
The company says tweets are eligible to be labeled if the account has a U.S. 2020 candidate label, including presidential candidates and campaigns — meaning the Trump and Biden campaigns will not be immune to the new policies.
Tweets can also be labeled if the account is U.S.-based with more than 100,000 followers or if they have significant engagement with the tweet — the threshold is either 25,000 Likes or 25,000 Quote Tweets plus Retweets, the company says. This latter guideline aims to clamp down on allowing misinformation to go viral, even if the tweet in question was initiated by a smaller account.
Twitter also explained how it will determine if an election result is considered “official,” saying that the result will need to be announced by a state election official. Alternately, Twitter may consider an election result official if at least two of a select list of national news outlets make the call. These outlets include ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News, and NBC News.
If a tweet is labeled as being “misleading information” under this new policy, users will be shown a prompt pointing them to credible information before they’re able to retweet or further amplify the post on Twitter. However, Twitter won’t stop retweets from being posted.
Twitter, however, recently made it more difficult to blindly retweet, by forcing retweets to go through “Quote Tweet” user interface instead. This change aims to slow people down from quickly retweeting posts without adding their own commentary.
In addition to labeling tweets with misleading information, Twitter says if it sees content “inciting interference with the election, encouraging violent action or other physical harms,” it may take additional measures, including adding a warning or even removing the tweet.
Issues around a contested election have been of increased concern, following reports that said President Trump has a plan to declare victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he’s ahead. Trump denied these claims on Sunday, but added he thinks it’s a “terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over,” Axios reported.