Twitter Update May Curtail Mail-In Ballot Attacks, Premature Results Claims

Twitter has expanded its rules against posting false or misleading information about voting and elections. 

The expansion appears likely to cause more clashes with President Donald Trump, given his ongoing attacks on mail-in ballots, among other attacks on the integrity of what Twitter calls “civic processes.” 

The rules would also, for example, cover false information about or attempts to suppress participation in the U.S. Census. 

In a blog post on Thursday, Twitter said that, starting Sept. 17, it will label or remove “false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election or other civic process.” 

That includes: 

  • False or misleading information that causes confusion about the laws and regulations of a civic process, or officials and institutions executing those civic processes.
  • Disputed claims that could undermine faith in the process itself, e.g. unverified information about election rigging, ballot tampering, vote tallying, or certification of election results.
  • Misleading claims about the results or outcome of a civic process which calls for or could lead to interference with the implementation of the results of the process, e.g. claiming victory before election results have been certified, inciting unlawful conduct to prevent a peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession. 



In line with its existing practice, tweets labeled for these reasons will still be visible to anyone following the accounts, but will not be amplified across Twitter. 

The policy states that the penalties for false or misleading tweets about civic processes will depend on the type of misinformation, its severity and the account’s history. Labeled tweets may also include a warning to people before they share or like the content and/or a link to more information for clarification purposes. If a tweet is determined to require removal, first offenders will have their accounts locked until they do so. Severe or repeated violations will result in a permanent account lock.

Addressing the reasons for the updates, Twitter said that users have told the platform that “non-specific, disputed information that could cause confusion about an election should be presented with more context.” 

“We will not permit our service to be abused around civic processes, most importantly elections,” the post concludes. “Any attempt to do so — both foreign and domestic — will be met with strict enforcement of our rules, which are applied equally and judiciously for everyone.”

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