Twitter has added a 'fact check' label to Donald Trump's Tweets - here's why

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 9:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 9:07 am

For the first time, social media giant Twitter has added a fact-check label to one of President Donald Trump's Tweets.

The platform added the warning to two of Trump's Tweets, in which he railed against the use proposed use of mail-in ballots in America's upcoming 2020 election.

"There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent," Tweeted the President.

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"Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed."

Under his posts, Twitter offered users the chance to "get the facts about mail-in ballots".

Here's everything you need to know:

Why have Twitter done this?

It may be the first time Twitter have applied such a label to posts from the President, but the platform's new system for combating "misleading information" has been in operation for a few weeks now.

Twitter started applying warnings to Tweets containing disputed or misleading information about the coronavirus outbreak in early May, introducing the labels on posts containing "moderately false or harmful claims" linked to the pandemic.

Tweets from world leaders, including Mr Trump, are subject to the new rules, Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity, said.

Trump's Tweets in question may not be directly related to the coronavirus pandemic in this instance, but as Twitter changes its approach to "misleading information", they have been slapped with a warning.

Why has Trump gone after mail-in ballots?

(Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images)

As the coronavirus outbreak continues apace in America, mentions of mail-in ballots have risen as a way for people to vote in the upcoming general election.

66% of Americans said they would not be comfortable going to a polling place to cast their ballot during the pandemic, according to a recent opinion survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre.

Not only is Trump keen to get American 'open' again - despite his country having the highest Covid-19 death toll in the world - he obviously sees mail-in ballots as a threat to his position.

Currently, five states, including Washington, Oregon and Colorado, conduct their elections entirely via mail-in ballot.

Twitter say Trump "falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to 'a Rigged Election.'

"However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud."

Trump also falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to "anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there."

"In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots," say Twitter.

How has Trump responded?

(Photo: Getty Images)

In typically inflammatory fashion, Trump accused Twitter of "completely stifling free speech" and interfering in the US presidential election, currently scheduled for 3 November 2020.

He claimed that he, "as president, will not allow it to happen".

Twitter is a private company, and as such gets to set its own rules for what happens on its platform.

Trump's presidential campaign manager Brad Parscale also took to Twitter to criticise the platform.

He said: "Partnering with biased fake news 'fact checkers' is a smoke screen to lend Twitter's obvious political tactics false credibility."

Could Trump's Tweets get taken down?

Many will be wondering, if Trump's Tweets are labelled as inaccurate or harmful, why are they not getting taken down?

Twitter uses a scale that measures the "propensity for harm" of a Tweet; only when a post's content contains "severe" misleading information is it removed.

The platform says the labels seen on Trump's recent Tweets are used "to provide additional explanations or clarifications in situations where the risks of harm associated with a Tweet are less severe but where people may still be confused or misled by the content.

"This will make it easier to find facts and make informed decisions about what people see on Twitter."

Why should we trust Twitter?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Clicking the links beneath Trump's flagged posts takes users to a page on which Mr Trump's claims about mail-in ballots are described as "unsubstantiated".

The social media company cites reporting on the issue by CNN, the Washington Post and others.

Announcing their policy change a few weeks ago, Twitter said each link will direct users to a "Twitter-curated page or external trusted source containing additional information on the claims made within the Tweet."

These Twitter-curated pages - known as "Moments" - "use data-driven decision making when choosing Tweets around controversial topics."

"When dealing with news or newsworthy content, we want to highlight quality Tweets that represent accurate information.

"If we become aware that we have highlighted content that turns out to be inaccurate, we will update the Moment with a visible correction and issue an updated Tweet."