Trump Posted Election Night Disinformation. Twitter and Facebook Took Different Routes.
Trump at his campaign headquarters on Election Day.Alex Brandon/AP
For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.As anticipated, Donald Trump took to social media to weigh in prematurely on the election early on Wednesday morning, baselessly claiming on social media that “we are up BIG” but that “they are trying to STEAL the Election.”
Early results do not show Trump with a big lead, nor is there this evidence of a plot to steal the election from Trump. Accordingly Facebook and Twitter immediately took action on the claim, which Trump posted to both platforms, but with notably different approaches: Twitter aggressively shielded its users from the claim, while Facebook continued relaying it with a minor notification appended.
Twitter opted to outright block users from seeing one of Trump’s tweets unless they clicked a warning label saying the content was “disputed.”
it’s even more restricted on trump’s page if you haven’t clicked on the tweet yet: pic.twitter.com/warcDitNYu
— Ali Breland (@alibreland) November 4, 2020
Twitter explained that Trump’s tweet ran afoul of its Civic Integrity Policy.
We placed a warning on a Tweet from @realDonaldTrump for making a potentially misleading claim about an election. This action is in line with our Civic Integrity Policy. More here: https://t.co/k6OkjNXEAm
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 4, 2020
Facebook, a larger platform with as much as eight times as many users, opted to not restrict the post at all, and instead put a label beneath reading “Final results may be different from initial vote counts.” Facebook signaled in a September blog post that instead of restricting such posts, it would apply an “informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election,” or if a “candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results,”
And now an update. Facebook’s label has now changed. It makes no comment about the content of Trump’s post but suggests that the results are not final. pic.twitter.com/EWw4guUAL0
— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) November 4, 2020