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A survey by voting rights experts suggests Twitter fails to combat election misinformation


By TechThop Team

Posted on: 12 Aug, 2022

The social network tweeted out a strategy on Thursday designed to combat the spread of election misinformation that revives past strategies, but civil rights and voting rights experts say the plan will fall short in preparing for the upcoming midterm elections.

The social media site said it will apply its civic integrity policy, introduced in 2018, to the November 8 midterms. By labeling or removing posts with misleading content, the policy aims to stop voting or undermine public confidence in elections.

As part of its 'elevation of reliable resources' about primaries and voting processes, Twitter has taken several steps in recent months, the company said. Labeling a tweet also means that it is not recommended to other users.

Elon Musk is trying to walk away from his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter, which is currently in litigation. Musk calls himself a 'free speech absolutist,' and says Twitter posts should only be removed if they are illegal.

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As candidates who question the 2020 election run for office, and divisive rhetoric is spreading following an FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home earlier this week, they warn that misinformation will be even more challenging this year.

'The same patterns are playing out,' said Evan Feeney, deputy senior campaign director at Color of Change. A tweet from Twitter said users were retweeting, liking, and replying less frequently to misleading content. Researchers say Twitter is consistent in labeling the content.

A Stanford University study published last month examined posts on Twitter and Meta's Facebook containing 78 misleading claims about the 2020 election. The researchers found that Twitter and Facebook consistently applied labels to only about 70 percent of claims.

As part of its efforts to fight misinformation during the midterm elections, Twitter will include information prompts to debunk falsehoods. The company said it has taken numerous steps to 'provide reliable resources' about primaries.

A nonpartisan group called Common Cause recommends more emphasis be placed on removing false and misleading posts.'It is not enough to point them to other sources,' he said. Experts also questioned Twitter's practice of posting some tweets from world leaders.

'As a social media platform, Twitter has a responsibility and an ability to stop misinformation at its source,' Feeney said, adding that world leaders and politicians should be held to a higher standard when it comes to the things they tweet.

The social network leads the industry in releasing data on how misinformation is suppressed, said Evelyn Douek, an assistant professor of law at Stanford who specializes in online speech regulation.

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