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Twitter's rigid fact-check rules allow Trump to continue spreading false information about the election

July 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The world took notice on May 26, when Twitter fact-checked President Donald Trump for the very first time. Trump posted a series of blatant lies about mail-in voting, and declared that "this will be a rigged election." Twitter responded swiftly, saying that the viral posts contained "potentially misleading" information, and slapped a fact-check label on them.

Trump posted a series of blatant lies about mail-in voting, and declared that "this will be a rigged election. " Twitter responded swiftly, saying that the viral posts contained "potentially misleading" information, and slapped a fact-check label on them.

According to a CNN analysis, Trump's latest posts included misleading information about the mechanics of mail-in voting, flat-out lies that the system is plagued by widespread fraud, and false accusations that Democrats are using these new voting procedures to cheat.

Still, experts told CNN that Twitter's narrow policy misses the bigger picture: Even if a tweet doesn't mention a specific state, it can still have the same impact of undermining faith in US elections and suppressing turnout, which is precisely what Twitter says it is trying to prevent.

Twitter also rolled out a "civic integrity policy" in May. The rules say, in part, that users "may not use Twitter's services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. " The company said this includes "posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process. "

Conveniently, in describing what doesn't break the rules, Twitter explicitly carved out an exception to allow "unsubstantiated claims that an election is 'rigged'" -- which has been one of Trump's go-to phrases for years, dating back to the 2016 campaign.

At this time, Twitter was facing an avalanche of criticism for refusing to remove or fact-check Trump's posts on a different topic.

Twitter decided that Trump's election-related posts crossed the line and merited a response.

Twitter added fact-check labels to two of his tweets, urging users to "get the facts about mail-in ballots," and linking to a curated page of articles debunking Trump's claims.

Trump spread a new lie in late June, claiming that "MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES. " According to Twitter, this fell into the category of "broad, non-specific statements" about election integrity.

On Friday, Trump falsely claimed, "mail-In Ballot fraud (is) found in many elections," and raised the possibility of millions of illegal votes this fall, tweeting, "20% fraudulent ballots?" Again, Twitter demurred, pointing to the carveout that shields untrue rhetoric about "rigged" elections.

Twitter shouldn't face too much criticism for refusing to publicly rebuke every Trump falsehood about mail-in voting because "that's not what Twitter's policy is, they aren't flagging any tweet that undermines confidence in the election process. "

Asked why Twitter's policies toward election-related misinformation treat state-specific lies more harshly than lies about voting on a national level, a spokesman reiterated that the purpose of the policy is to uphold civic integrity and to quash specific threats.

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