Twitter adds warning to 'potentially misleading' Donald Trump tweets

17 September 2020, 18:07 | Updated: 18 September 2020, 17:32

Twitter has added a warning label to one of US president Donald Trump's tweets
Twitter has added a warning label to one of US president Donald Trump's tweets. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Twitter has added a warning label to "potentially misleading" tweets by US President Donald Trump about postal voting and his main opponent in the upcoming elections.

The social media company said it wanted to "offer more context" to a tweet in which the president claims the November election result may "never be accurately determined" due to large numbers of postal - or 'mail-in' - votes this year.

It also slapped a "manipulated media" label on a campaign video which falsely shows Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holding up the song "F*** Tha Police" by hip hop group NWA to a microphone during a speech.

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In response to several tweets from Donald Trump about mail-in voting yesterday, the social media firm said: "We’ve added a label to [these tweets] for making a potentially misleading statement regarding the process of mail-in voting, and to offer more context for anyone who may see the tweet.

It added: "Our recently-updated Civic Integrity Policy specifically offers guidance on these claims, including that we will label misleading information or disputed claims that could undermine faith in the process itself."

President Trump lashed out at Twitter for adding the warnings and claims the company is unfairly promoting negative stories about him into its trending categories - something which has not been proven.

Twitter's new policy, introduced earlier this month, states that users cannot use the platform "for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes" and said it would "label and reduce the visibility of Tweets containing false or misleading information".

It signals a change in how the social media company monitors its users and responds to the ever-increasing presence of fake claims and conspiracy theories online.

Other social media companies have been taking action to curb the spread of false information, including Facebook which has introduced greater transparency over its advertisers and sponsors of particular pages.

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Critics of the firms claim that far too little has been done to combat the rising tide of misinformation and dubious tactics adopted by campaigners during election season.

Sam Jeffers, founder of political advertising watchdog Who Targets Me?, said: "Adding warning labels are probably the best of a bad bunch of options when it comes to correcting Trump's false tweets about voting.

"Deleting them entirely opens up a tricky conversation about censorship, while leaving them untouched ignores a lie which can spread.

"The platforms have started trying to label and add context to what he says, but for it to work, they have to be really fast and really consistent in the way they do it.

"They still have to get better at this, as lies travel faster and further than the truth."

In June, Facebook's head of global affairs and communications - former British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg - warned that foreign meddling seen in the 2016 US election should not happen again and claims the company has introduced stringent new measures since.