Twitter said Thursday that it labeled two of President Donald Trump’s tweets “for encouraging people to potentially vote twice” because the remarks violated the site’s rules about civic integrity and elections.
“The laws regarding the invalidation of mail-in ballots when individuals choose to vote in person are complex, and vary significantly by state. Our goal is to prevent people from sharing advice about voting twice, which may be illegal,” Twitter said in a tweet.
For more like this
Subscribe to the CNET Now newsletter for our editors’ picks of the most important stories of the day.
In the pair of tweets, Trump said that voters should mail in their ballots as soon as possible and “go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted).”
Twitter added a label to the tweets that said Trump violated its rules but that the tweets were left up because of public interest. “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the label states.
The move shows that Twitter is taking a more aggressive stance against misinformation shared by politicians ahead of the US presidential election. Twitter has labeled several of Trump’s tweets before for violating other rules, including against glorifying violence. Trump has accused Twitter and other social networks of censoring conservative speech and of political bias, allegations that these companies have repeatedly denied. The tensions between Trump and Twitter escalated in late May after the president signed an executive order that aims to curtail legal protections that shield Facebook, Twitter and other online companies from liability for content posted by their users. The nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology sued the Trump administration, alleging the order violated the First Amendment.
The Trump administration didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that Trump wasn’t encouraging voters to break the law, but “what he said very clearly there is make sure your [mail-in] vote is tabulated, and if it is not, then vote.”
Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said in a statement that it’s illegal to vote twice in an election but that voters can check the status of their absentee by-mail ballot online.
“The State Board office strongly discourages people from showing up at the polls on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot was counted. That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19,” she said.
Trump posted the same remarks about voting on Facebook. The social network doesn’t send posts from politicians to fact-checkers but lawmakers aren’t exempted from its rules about voter suppression. It started labeling all posts about voting, including Trump’s post, with a link to its voting information enter. The label doesn’t state that the post contains misinformation. “Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year. (Source: Bipartisan Policy Center),” Facebook’s label under Trump’s states.
Facebook employees are reportedly not happy with the company’s interpretation of its own policies, calling the decision over Trump’s post “shameful” and “unconscionable,” BuzzFeed News reported Friday. The social network recently expanded its rules to bar content including explicit and “implicit misrepresentations about voting.” Some employees wrote in an internal discussion forum that it appeared as if Trump’s post did violate these updated rules around voter suppression and the post should’ve been removed.
The company said that a news video in which Trump suggests in North Carolina that people should attempt to vote in person after mailing in their ballots does violate its policies against voter fraud and it will be removed unless users are sharing it to “correct the record.” Facebook hasn’t yet identified or removed any of these videos for that purpose. The remarks Trump made in the video are different though than what he posted on social media because he wrote that people should check in person if their vote has been counted.