2020 Election

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Twitter restricts Trump’s tweet claiming that foes would ‘steal’ the election

With key wins notched in a few states, Trump didn’t declare victory prematurely on election night as social media companies feared — but he did baselessly raise the specter of voter fraud.

“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election,” Trump tweeted. “We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”

We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020

Twitter took action against the tweet quickly, placing it behind a warning and adding a misinformation label. The company explained its actions in a tweet, stating that the president’s message contained a “potentially misleading claim about an election.”

We placed a warning on a Tweet from @realDonaldTrump for making a potentially misleading claim about an election. This action is in line with our Civic Integrity Policy. More here: https://t.co/k6OkjNXEAm

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 4, 2020

While Trump’s wording is left a bit ambiguous, the president again appears to be attacking the integrity of vote-by-mail ballots. With mail-in ballots expected to come in slowly in some states, lagging votes may play a big part in the election outcome. That scenario was expected and does not raise any concerns over the integrity of vote tallying.

Due to a huge spike in mail-in voting related to the pandemic, results were expected to be more ambiguous on election night in 2020 than in past years and so far that’s proven true. Social media companies began crafting new policies for the unusual circumstances of the 2020 election and its worrisome misinformation ecosystem in the months leading up to November.

Twitter also said in a September policy announcement that it would remove or label any tweets that incite unlawful activity and threaten a “peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession.” While tweets that Twitter restricts remain online, they’re placed behind a warning message that users must first click through in order to view their content. Restricted tweets also have their retweets, likes and comments disabled, reducing their reach.

On Facebook, where much of Trump’s Twitter content is reposted, his message earned a label reminding users that election night results and final results may differ as more ballots are counted. In an email, Facebook spokesperson Tom Reynolds said that Facebook labeled the post shortly after it went up “in accordance with the policies we shared ahead of Election Day.”

The company attached a similar label to another late night Trump post declaring “I will be making a statement tonight. A big WIN!” Facebook previously said it planned to label any posts claiming premature victory with an informational message pointing users to official election results.

Twitter hides Trump tweet behind notice for potentially dissuading people from voting

Twitter flagged one of President Donald Trump’s tweets on Monday, placing it behind a notice that warns users it violates the platform’s rules against dissuading people from voting.

In the tweet, posted on Monday, Trump claimed mail drop boxes are a “voter security disaster” and also said they are “not COVID sanitized.” Twitter’s notice says that the tweet violates its rules about civic and election integrity, but it “determined it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” Users can still retweet it with comment, but are nor prevented from liking, replying, or retweeting it alone.

Through its Twitter Safety account, the company gave more details, saying that the tweet had been flagged for “making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.” It also cited a section from its Civic Integrity Policy, highlighting a line that forbids users from making “misleading claims about process procedures or techniques which could dissuade people from participating” in elections.

Per our policies, this Tweet will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation. Engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it. pic.twitter.com/USuaRr5ING

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 23, 2020

Mail-in ballots, which are expected to be used more widely by states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have become a partisan issue leading up to the November presidential election. Despite what Trump said in his tweet, expert consensus is that mail-in ballots and absentee ballots are both secure. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states COVID-19 is spread mostly through close contact from person to person. Though it is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, the CDC says this is “not thought to be main way the virus spreads.”

After years of controversy over how the platform handled the president’s tweets that contained misleading, false, or incendiary statements, Twitter has recently begun taking a harder stance on Trump’s account. In May, Twitter applied fact-check labels about mail-in ballots to two of Trump’s tweets.

Days later, Trump signed an executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives internet companies legal protections that shield them from liability for user-created content while also giving them power to make moderation decisions. The executive order argued that platforms forfeit their rights to legal protection when they moderate content, as Twitter did when it applied fact-check labels to Trump’s tweets.

Though it is not clear if Trump’s executive order is legally enforceable, it may serve to intimidate some platforms. Twitter called the order a “reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law,” and its actions on Trump’s tweets today may indicate that the company does not see it as a threat.

TechCrunch has contacted the White House and Twitter for comment.

‘You’re stuck in 2016’: Stephen Colbert mocks Trump’s ‘lazy’ insults for Kamala Harris

'You're stuck in 2016': Stephen Colbert mocks Trump's 'lazy' insults for Kamala Harris

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate this week, and President Donald Trump is predictably already on the attack. However, as Late Show host Stephen Colbert noted, Trump is still literally workshopping “effective nicknames” for Harris, simply calling her “nasty” in the meantime. 

“How lazy are you? You’re just repeating what you said about Hillary!” said Colbert on Wednesday night. “You’re stuck in 2016 and that’s not fair. Why should you be the only one who gets to live in a time when you’re not president?”

More about Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Kamala Harris, and 2020 Election

Joe Biden joins Jimmy Kimmel to talk cooking, coronavirus, and calling out Trump

Joe Biden joins Jimmy Kimmel to talk cooking, coronavirus, and calling out Trump

“With all that’s been going on over the past couple of weeks virus-wise, I feel like we’ve almost forgotten about the presidential election,” said Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday. All elections are important, but the coronavirus pandemic and a severely divisive U.S. president have raised the stakes particularly high this year.

As such, Democratic candidate Joe Biden joined Kimmel via video call to discuss his campaign, how he’s social distancing, and Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t quite understand the lack of willingness to move rapidly and to let science dictate,” said Biden, referring to Trump’s slow reaction to the pandemic. Read more…

More about Joe Biden, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Kimmel, 2020 Election, and Coronavirus

Twitter places ‘manipulated media’ warning on White House social media director’s Biden tweet

Twitter places 'manipulated media' warning on White House social media director's Biden tweet

Twitter only implemented its new policy against manipulated media on Mar. 5, but it’s already been put to use. 

White House social media director Dan Scavino has become one of the first to be impacted by the new policy after a video of Joe Biden that he tweeted was tagged as manipulated media. 

Last month, Twitter announced it was introducing a rule against “deceptively [sharing] synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm,” and would be adding warnings to some tweets that contain “synthetic and manipulated media.” Such media has become a worrying issue in political campaigns, with online misinformation a significant concern in recent and upcoming elections. Read more…

More about Twitter, Joe Biden, White House, Misinformation, and 2020 Election

‘The 2020 campaign is a Mad Lib’: Stephen Colbert wraps up the Democratic candidates’ weird weekend

'The 2020 campaign is a Mad Lib': Stephen Colbert wraps up the Democratic candidates' weird weekend

Joe Biden won South Carolina’s Democratic primary over the weekend, prompting three of his fellow candidates to quietly take their presidential dreams out back to look at the rabbits. One of these candidates was Tom Steyer, who just the night before had been on stage at a rally, bopping up and down to ’90s hip-hop tune “Back That Azz Up.”

“A white billionaire dancing to Juvenile to a song about butts,” said Late Show host Stephen Colbert during Monday’s episode. “The 2020 campaign is officially a Mad Lib.”

Also dropping out were Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. “Klobuchar made the decision to drop out when it became clear she wouldn’t win the nomination, but kept running for over a year anyway,” Colbert. Read more…

More about Joe Biden, South Carolina, Stephen Colbert, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and 2020 Election