Short message service Twitter will revive features to promote accurate information about the November US midterm elections and to clamp down on false and misleading posts. The company announced this in a blog post on Thursday.
Civil rights organizations and media pundits have long accused social media and tech platforms of not doing enough to prevent the spread of misinformation. According to Reuters news agency, Twitter will apply its 2018 policy to prevent misinformation to the midterm elections on November 8. At the midterms, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and about a third of the 100 seats in the US Senate are up for vote. The ruling Democrats could lose their majority in both houses.
The policy prohibits users from posting misleading content designed to discourage people from voting and claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election, including false information about the outcome of an election. In addition, the accounts of candidates are marked as such in order to distinguish them more clearly from fakes.
Donald Trump as a precedent
Twitter banned Donald Trump last year after expressing sympathy for his supporters who stormed the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. In the previous weeks, Trump had fueled sentiment with unsubstantiated claims that an election win against Joe Biden was stolen from him through fraud. The presidential elections had allowed Twitter to grow strongly. Despite Trump’s ouster, the San Francisco-based company beat its own revenue expectations.
Twitter, which has sued billionaire Elon Musk 3575468 to settle his $44 billion deal to acquire the company, said it conducted tests to prevent misleading tweets from being recommended to other users via notifications, according to Reuters. The tests resulted in 1.6 million fewer views of misleading information per month, according to Twitter.
Action against fake news
As recently as May, Twitter had created guidelines on disinformation in times of crisis, primarily targeting disinformation about the Ukraine war. The company previously restricted Russian government accounts, including those of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The more than 300 accounts affected were not blocked, but no longer recommended or highlighted on Twitter, so that the reach is significantly limited.
Last year, Twitter also set up the Birdwatch project to warn against false and misinformation. 10,000 volunteer fact-checkers annotate questionable tweets from popular users. Since the beginning of March, a small group of randomly selected US users have been able to see the Birdwatch notifications directly next to the tweets deemed misleading.
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