Shortly after Election Day had ended, Donald Trump decided he’d won the 2020 Presidential Election. He came to this conclusion not on the basis of confirmed ballot counts but rather by what seems to be a fallacy of divine virtue. Trump tweeted about his “victory,” as one does, and Twitter quickly slapped a misinformation warning label on the false statement. It was slower, however, to act on his subsequent misleading tweets that continue to pour in as of Wednesday morning.
“We are up BIG, but they are still trying to STEAL the Election,” Trump tweeted at 12:49 am. “We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
Twitter’s label on the tweet reads: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” It’s the same label Trump’s inaccurate tweets have faced in the months leading up to Election Day.
Facebook took similar action against Trump’s identical message; the company labeled his post but did not remove it. Both companies have spoken about these types of posts being left up because it’s important that the public see them.
It’s obvious that the nightmare of Trump’s false tweets is far from over. Less obvious: whether Twitter and Facebook are ready to fight his misinformation before it causes serious harm.
But you can still retweet — Twitter’s label falls in line with its Civil Integrities Policy, which explicitly states that the platform may not be used to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civil processes. In most cases violating this policy, the tweet is simply deleted. It’s not so easy when Trump is involved.
Along with the label, Twitter has turned off the ability to like and comment directly under Trump’s tweet. You can, however, still retweet it as long as you add a comment.
Is it enough? — The extent of the damage done by Trump’s misinformation is incalculable. But damage there certainly is, by both Trump and his many supporters. Adding a label isn’t exactly useful when Trump has taught those supporters not to trust Twitter under any circumstances. They’re still free to retweet away. And no action at all has been taken on the video of Trump’s 2 a.m. speech where he essentially declares victory.
And then there’s Facebook. Oh, Facebook. Your label looks like an afterthought and your comments section is an absolute mess. Twitter’s action might not be perfect — but it’s better than this, that’s for sure.
Just after 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, Trump went back to tweeting misinformation about ballot counts. It took over 30 minutes for Twitter to respond, and by then it had already garnered a lot of attention.
Twitter also says in its policies that repeated or severe cases may be subject to permanent suspension. Maybe we could consider that one, seeing as Trump’s now been flagged…more than a handful of times.