November 4, 2020

It’s been a tough morning for President Donald Trump on Twitter. Between 10 a.m. and noon Eastern, he tweeted five times and had three of his posts labeled by the social media company as potentially “misleading about an election or other civic process.” If you stretch back to last night, the number of labeled tweets goes up to four. In the same time frame, Joe Biden didn’t have any labels enforced. His tweets are running free.

Twitter announced in October it would label “tweets meant to incite interference with the election process or with the implementation of election results.” It also said that it would tag content that falsely claimed a win for any candidate. The idea was to reduce its distribution.

“Tweets with labels are already de-amplified through our own recommendation systems and these new prompts will give individuals more context on labeled tweets so they can make more informed decisions on whether or not they want to amplify them to their followers,” the company wrote in a post.

On Nov. 2, The New York Times published a detailed article on what to expect from major social media platforms on Election Day and explained what Twitter had in mind a bit further.

“On Tuesday, Twitter’s strategy is twofold: Root out false claims and networks of bots that spread such information by using both algorithms and human analysts, while another team highlights reliable information in the Explore and Trends sections of its service. Twitter plans to add labels to tweets from candidates who claim victory before the election is called by authoritative sources,” wrote reporters Mike Isaac, Kate Conger and Daisuke Wakabayashi.

So it’s probably right to say that all candidates running for office on Nov. 3 knew they could be labeled.

At 12:49 a.m. Eastern, however, @realDonaldTrump suggested that Democrats were “trying to steal the election.” For Twitter, this message crossed the line and went against the platform’s civic integrity policy. And, so, the tweet was labeled and lost most of the ways people have to engage with it. Sharing wasn’t allowed.

The same situation happened at 10:04 a.m., 10:35 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. Eastern. In two of these cases, the president stated that ballots were “disappearing.” In the other, he retweeted a message suggesting there was reason enough to go to court as a way to get election results.

Trump’s tweets are also concerning his own administration. The New York Times reported that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is worried about the president’s comments. The recently-created “rumor control” page keeps a warning that says a delay in election results “does not indicate there is any problem with the counting process or results. Official results are not certified until all validly cast ballots have been counted.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ Twitter accounts didn’t receive any labels over the last 12 hours (as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern).

Poynter is providing around-the-clock coverage and analysis of the 2020 election. Follow along on our live blog for more.

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Cristina Tardáguila is the International Fact-Checking Network’s Associate Director. She was born in May 1980, in Brazil, and has lived in Rio de Janeiro for…
Cristina Tardáguila

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