Twitter has spent election week repeatedly flagging President Donald Trump’s tweets for misinformation over his questioning the election’s legitimacy.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the president had tweeted seven times since midnight following a day of Americans voting across the country. Twitter has flagged at least four of them with a warning that the content shared in Trump’s tweets “is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
Trump claimed without evidence that his advantage in Democrat-led states “started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted,” referring to the completely democratic act of the tally of legal mail-in ballots. Later, the president baselessly alleged that Democrats are “working hard to make up 500,000 vote advantage in Pennsylvania disappear.”
Another tweet that got flagged concerned content he quote tweeted. The shared material used a manipulated or misleading screenshot of a map from a results-reporting outlet to suggest that 100% of a new count of votes in Michigan went to Democrat Joe Biden. That did not happen, and the screenshot Trump shared has since been deleted.
Trump has particularly focused on casting doubt on the results from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin ― three battleground states that have taken much longer to produce outcomes. Election officials were barred by state law from starting to count mail-in ballots prior to Election Day in a year where an unprecedented number of people chose to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the start of the campaign, those three states have been recognized as crucial to the outcome of the presidential race. As the counts continue in them, Biden was projected to win Wisconsin and Michigan while Trump leads in Pennsylvania.
Mail-in ballots take longer to process than in-person ballots because they must be physically opened and flattened, and checked against voter rolls before being scanned and counted. Trump is incorrectly telling supporters that officials are “finding” ballots in these states, when really they are just continuing to count them. Nor were the ballots were not cast after Election Day like Trump and his allies are alleging.
“As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” Twitter spokesperson Nicholas Pacilio told NBC News in a statement. “Our teams continue to monitor Tweets that attempt to spread misleading information about voting, accounts engaged in spammy behavior, and Tweets that make premature or inaccurate claims about election results. Our teams remain vigilant and will continue working to protect the integrity of the election conversation on Twitter.”
Twitter released a tweet defending its decision immediately after flagging Trump’s first tweet at midnight, which baselessly claimed that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election. The platform cited its Civic Integrity Policy, which says that Twitter prohibits “attempts to use our services to manipulate or disrupt civic processes, including through the distribution of false or misleading information about the procedures or circumstances around participation in a civic process.”
The policy also says that Twitter may label tweets to provide additional context “in instances where misleading information does not seek to directly manipulate or disrupt civic processes, but leads to confusion on our service.” Facebook engaged in similar actions to label identical posts on its platform.