Twitter may not be against election misinformation, suffrage experts say

Twitter on Thursday laid out a plan to combat the spread of election misinformation reviving earlier strategies, but civic and suffrage experts said it would fall short of what was needed. to prepare for the upcoming US midterm elections.

The social media company said it will adopt the civic integrity policy, introduced in 2018, in midterms on November 8, when more US Senate and House of Representatives seats will be up for election. The policy relies on labeling or removing posts with misleading content, with a focus on announcements intended to stop voting or statements intended to undermine public confidence in an election.

In a statement, Twitter said it had taken steps in recent months to “enhance credible resources” in terms of primaries and the voting process. Applying a label to a tweet also means that the content is not recommended or distributed to more users.

The San Francisco-based company is currently in a legal battle with the billionaire Elon Musk about his attempt to get out of his $44 billion (about 3.5 lakh crore) deal to acquire Twitter.

Musk calls himself a “liberalist” and says Twitter posts should only be removed if they contain illegal content, a view supported by many in the tech industry.

However, online citizenship and misinformation experts have long accused social media and tech platforms of not doing enough to prevent the spread of false content, including whole idea that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

They warn that disinformation could be a bigger challenge this year, as candidates questioning the 2020 election are running and divisive rhetoric is spreading after the FBI searched the home of former President Donald Trump in Florida earlier this week.

“We’re seeing similar patterns playing out,” said Evan Feeney, senior vice president of campaigns for Color of Change, an organization that advocates for black American rights.

In the blog post, Twitter said a test of redesigned labels showed a drop in users’ retweets, likes and replies to misleading content.

Twitter and other platforms have a notable track record in labeling such content consistently, the researchers say.

In an article published last month, Stanford University The researchers examined a sample of Meta’s Twitter and Facebook posts containing a total of 78 misleading statements about the 2020 election. They found that Twitter and Facebook only applied the label consistently to about 70 percent of the requests.

In a statement, Twitter said it had taken several steps in recent months to “enhance trusted resources” on the primaries and voting process.

Twitter’s efforts to combat misinformation during midterms will include information prompts to verify misinformation before it spreads widely online.

According to Yosef Getachew, director of media and democracy programs at the nonpartisan group Common Cause, more emphasis should be placed on removing false and misleading posts.

“Pointing them to other sources is not enough,” he said.

Experts also question Twitter’s practice of leaving a number of tweets from world leaders in the name of public interest.

“Twitter has the responsibility and ability to prevent misinformation at the source,” Feeney said, adding that world leaders and politicians should face higher standards for what they tweet.

Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School who studies the regulation of online speech, said Twitter leads the industry in releasing data on active misinformation intervention efforts. how to move.

However, more than a year after polling the public on what the company should do when a world leader violates its rules, Twitter has not provided an update. speak.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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