Twitter makes it more difficult to view misleading information about voting

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Twitter said Friday it would add new labels and restrictions on tweets when U.S. politicians try to spread election misinformation, joining other social media companies in tightening its rules in the final weeks of the election season.

The changes come after criticism that fact-check labels on certain tweets, including those from President Donald Trump about mail-in voting, were inadequate to counter the misinformation directed at voters.

The labels will now be more prominent and obtrusive, so that “people must tap through a warning to see these Tweets,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s policy chief, and Kayvon Beykpour, the company’s product chief, said in a blot post.

“Retweets and replies will be turned off, and these Tweets won’t be algorithmically recommended by Twitter,” the executives wrote, although people will be able to add commentary to a misleading tweet with the service’s quote-tweet feature.

“We expect this will further reduce the visibility of misleading information, and will encourage people to reconsider if they want to amplify these Tweets,” they wrote.

Trump has frequently used Twitter and Facebook to claim without evidence that mail-in ballots cannot be accurately counted or are more susceptible to fraud than other forms of voting, brushing off the tech companies’ attempts so far to label the posts as misinformation.

Facebook is also continuing to tighten its rules with less than a month to go before the end of voting in the presidential race and other contests. This week, Facebook banned “militarized” calls to interfere with voting at polling places, and banned QAnon accounts in a sweeping crackdown on the conspiracy theory.

Google, which like the other companies is concerned about possible election unrest, has said it will restrict political ads after polls close Nov. 3 while initial vote counts get underway. Facebook later adopted the same policy.

Gadde and Beykpour said Twitter users had a “collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process.”

They outlined other Twitter changes, including:

  • Adding to the company’s “civic integrity policy” so that candidates can’t claim victory until “either an announcement from state election officials, or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets that make independent election calls.”
  • Expanding a ban on inciting election interference to cover all congressional races as well as the presidential election.
  • A new prompt before a user can retweet a tweet with misleading information.
  • A new default option for retweeting that encourages quote-tweeting and may alter how certain content gets amplified.
  • Changing part of Twitter’s trending lists to add more context before a topic appears.

David Ingram

David Ingram covers tech for NBC News.

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