Facebook invalidates Trump post about mail-in ballots with a blunt new label

The label says that "voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness." Not that his supporters are likely to care.

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Facebook today slapped a label on President Trump's post that questions the legitimacy of mail-in voting. In it, Trump says that voters who submit mail-in ballots should visit their polling place on election day to "see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted)." He tells supporters to vote again in person if their mail-in ballot hasn't yet been counted — which isn't legal.

The new label below the post reads, "Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US," and cites the Bipartisan Policy Center as its source.

Tiptoeing — Trump has repeatedly made claims that voting by mail is susceptible to fraud, and admitted to blocking funding to the USPS in order to slow delivery of ballots. The FBI recently released a statement saying it hasn't found evidence of any attempts to coordinate mail-in ballot fraud in the upcoming election. But Facebook has been very careful about addressing Trump's posts.


Under a previous post suggesting that mail-in voting is corrupt, Facebook merely added a label that directed users to "Get official voting info on how to vote," but did not directly contradict his comments. Critics said the statement was inadequate because it did not correct his false statement. Today's post initially featured the same label before Facebook updated it to correct the record.

Do these labels even matter? — The company has committed to labelling posts that spread misinformation about voting, such as those that mislead people about what they need to do to get a ballot. It will also block new political ads in the week leading up the election, and label posts that declare victory before the final results have been announced. If Trump loses the election, it may block any of his ads that dispute the outcome.

Because Trump and the GOP have worked hard to discredit technology companies as being biased in favor of Democrats (they aren't), it's unclear that his supporters would even be influenced by Facebook's new labels and fact-checks. That's ultimately the problem with allowing dangerous posts to remain with a label — people will believe what they want to believe and disregard everything else.

Facebook, in adding labels, is doing the bare minimum to say it's taking action without actually making hard choices that will displease Republicans.