Twitter moderated another tweet from the President of the United States: the post was about one of Trump's most beloved unfounded theories in the last period, namely the one according to which voting by mail is less secure than voting in person and therefore increases the risk of fraud. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still raging in the country, it is very likely that for this year's presidential elections many will resort to voting by post, to limit infections as much as possible.
Trump argues in the tweet that:
- It is possible for a person to vote multiple times
- mailboxes are not sanitized against coronavirus
- mailboxes could be positioned unevenly, thus favoring elections by the Democrats.
Twitter has decided to censor Trump's tweet, without deleting it, saying it violates the rules of the platform "on the integrity of civic processes and elections", since the postal vote represents a"big fraud"perpetrated by the Democrats. The tweet is still visible: it has not been deleted from the platform, but protected by the aforementioned warning message. To read it, the user must actively click on a link. This system is part of Twitter's exceptional measures for those contents that, even if they violate the company regulations, are of public interest. However, the possibility of interaction by other users is limited: the post can be retweeted with comment, but it is not possible to like, reply or retweet without to comment.
Per our policies, this Tweet will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation. Engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it. pic.twitter.com/USuaRr5ING
– Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 23, 2020
The problem with The Donald's claims is that they are unfounded, at least according to Twitter. The fact is that postal voting has already been widespread in the US for some time, and experts believe it does not pose a significantly greater risk of fraud than traditional voting. Trump probably cares a lot about the matter because according to some estimates, voting in the mail could lead many more Democrats to run in the elections. It is also worth noting that the CDC, the American federal authority on the spread and prevention of diseases, has said that it is very unlikely to be infected by touching infected surfaces: the main vehicle for the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus remains contact. close not protected by masks between people.
Regardless, Twitter's action once again represents the new twist on fake news moderation, which has gotten tougher. In recent months, the social network has denied a lie published by POTUS for the first time and on another occasion it has censored one of his tweets. Trump reacted by signing an executive order to reform social media censorship policies. Meanwhile, Twitch has also suspended the President's official channel for incitement to hatred.
According to internal sources of the New York Times, Facebook is preparing to fight meddling in the presidential election … by Trump and his staff. The tweet above is just one example, but the President has already publicly stated that he may not even accept the election result if he suspects fraud. The fact is that already a good part of his electoral communication says that fraud will probably occur, precisely because of the vote by post.
Facebook employees would be preparing contingency plans to react to the eventuality that Trump uses the platform to de-legitimize the election results. The plan would be extremely detailed, to the point of speculating what Trump might say and prepare the related counter-arguments. The scenarios mentioned for example include:
- Trump says he won the election even though that's not true.
- Trump says the US Postal Service has lost some ballots or other groups have tried to interfere with the vote.
Apparently Zuckerberg himself is directly involved in the project. Meetings would even be held on a daily basis to understand how to best manage the possible crisis. It was even envisaged the possibility of completely blocking advertisements of a political nature, although Zuckerberg has always said he is against the idea. This type of announcement, it is important to remember, is not subjected to the classic fact checking procedures, and therefore could be a channel to spread falsehoods.
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