Twitter blasted over reactivation of 2020 US election policy

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Twitter announced on Thursday that it would reactivate the enforcement of rules first introduced ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, prompting a furious reaction from Republican supporters.

Former Trump aide Jason Miller, who started a rival social media company Gettr, condemned the news as an “attempt from Twitter’s liberal executives to control the outcome of elections and the democratic process,” calling them “a repeat of their interference in the 2020 election.”

The Silicon Valley social media giant said it will label “misinformation” and prevent its sharing, promote “reputable news outlets,” and “prebunk” any “misleading narratives” about election results. The move comes roughly three months ahead of the US congressional midterms. 

The “Civic Integrity Policy” applies to all elections globally, Twitter explained in an unsigned blog post, adding that it aims to counter “misleading claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election – including false information about the outcome.”

A dedicated Explore tab will feature “national news in both English and Spanish by reputable news outlets” curated by Twitter, news and resources tailored to specific US states, and “voter education” public service announcements “created using information from nonpartisan government and voting advocacy organizations.”

Twitter will also “share prompts with information about how and where to vote, directly to people’s timelines,” the company said, and bring back “prebunks” in order to “get ahead of misleading narratives… and to proactively address topics that may be the subject of misinformation.”

Posts labeled as “false or misleading” will be labeled so they can’t be liked or shared. Twitter pointed to “promising results” of such a strategy when they tested it last year, noting that 17% more people clicked on the labels, while the labeled posts saw a decrease of 13% in replies, 10% in retweets, and 15% in likes.

The company said it was doing this because “Twitter plays a critical role in empowering democratic conversations, facilitating meaningful political debate, and providing information on civic participation – not only in the US, but around the world.”

“Prebunking” is a term Twitter’s head of site integrity Yoel Roth used in October 2020 to describe preemptively debunking “common misleading claims” about the upcoming presidential election, such as any complaints about mail-in voting. The practice played a major role in what Time magazine later famously described as an effort of a “well-funded cabal of powerful people” to “fortify” the 2020 election.

Twitter had initially rolled out the rules with just a week to go before the 2020 presidential election, and less than two weeks after locking the account of New York Post and blocking the sharing of their story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Democrats had denounced the story as “Russian disinformation,” but the laptop and its contents were eventually proven authentic – after Joe Biden’s inauguration and Twitter’s ban of President Donald Trump while he was still in office.

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