Over the last four years, the current president has displayed what seems to be a severe allergy to the truth. If he’s not lying about winning non-existent awards, he’s falsely accusing people of murder. There have been frequent calls for social media platforms to regulate the president’s penchant for misinformation, calls that are usually met with wishy-washy language about “free speech,” “censorship,” and the president’s “newsworthiness.” It seems, though, that may soon change.
The Washington Post reports that for the first time ever, Twitter has fact checked a tweet from the president. A tweet sent out by the president early Tuesday morning, called mail-in ballots “fraudulent.” A notification has been added to the post telling users to “get the facts about mail in ballots.” The link then redirects users to news articles detailing Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.
Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough said the tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” This move came after the company was under fire on Tuesday to delete the aforementioned murder accusations the president tweeted out with no evidence.
This is a slight but notable change of pace from the company that has long resisted pushing back against misinformation. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has long held that users could debate misinformation and find the truth out on their own. This stance has seemed to shift throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, the company issued new rules saying it would delete tweets from anyone, world leaders included, it they went “against guidance from authoritative sources of global and public health information.” These rules were implemented for the first time against Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and Venezulan President Nicolas Maduro after they issued tweets promoting false cures and calling social distancing ineffective.
The fact check label issued on the president’s tweet was the first time the company called out political misinformation. It remains to be seen if this was a one-off incident or if the company will continuously monitor misinformation as it relates to this year’s election.