If there is an issue generating the most misinformation this election season, then it is voting by mail. Misinformation about this matter is still proliferating, even if several major tech platforms have made it a top priority to combat false information about voting.
Moreover, the video-sharing giant YouTube is taking another step to fight voting-related misinformation. To do this, the platform will place text under videos about mail-in voting. The said text will direct viewers to be authoritative and accurate information from the Bipartisan Policy Center. YouTube has a similar feature on other topics that can potentially attract a significant amount of posts and videos that may contain misleading or false information. One good example of such topics is the global COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Leslie Miller, the Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy on YouTube, the company raises authoritative voices to reduce harmful misinformation.
On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter, two of the largest social media platforms, have also done their part in combating voting-related information. This year, the two platforms have introduced information hubs to flag or even remove misleading posts regarding the election.
YouTube does not have a dedicated hub for election-related information. However, the platform has integrated panels on candidates whenever a viewer searches for them within YouTube. These integrated panels highlight information about how to vote and register on related search results.
True enough, different social media companies have taken part in fighting the spread of false information. However, in general, they had a difficult time applying their misinformation policies evenly within their platforms. For this reason, misinformation related to the upcoming election has continued to slip through. This includes the baseless claim that voting by mail is an unreliable thing.
US President Donald Trump has been an active user of social media platforms. There, regularly posts inaccurate information about the upcoming election as well as voting by mail. This is partly the reason why the issue has been magnified on social media.
Zignal Labs, a data insights company, said that voting by mail is the top topic of election-related misinformation this year. The company’s data analysis revealed that the topic was mentioned on social media and TV broadcast approximately 3.1 million times since January.
Furthermore, social media companies have long seized policing politicians’ speeches and posts on their platforms. This is because they consider a world leader’s posts as newsworthy. However, that began to change for the US president this year.
Last May, the social media platform Twitter set a precedent on posts from a politician. Trump posted two tweets where he baselessly claimed that mail-in ballots would result in the presidential election to be rigged. Twitter considered Trump’s posts as a form of misinformation and added a warning label to them.
The said links were placed at the bottom of the tweets and are punctuated by an exclamation point. It urges people to get accurate information about voting by mail. When Twitter users click on the warning labels, they will be prompted to as CNN story that proves that Trump’s claims were inaccurate. Also, the accounts that buy YouTube views to promote anything similar to fake news should be warned.
While the warning labels were only a minor addition to the US president’s tweets, they indicate a big leap in how Twitter deals with misinformation brought by world leaders. For years, the social media company, based in San Francisco, faced criticisms over Trump’s posts. The president’s posts were evidently misleading. However, Twitter repeatedly claimed that his posts did not violate any of their terms of service.
However, that changed after Trump received a fierce backlash over his comments about the death of Lori Kalusutis. The young woman worked for Joe Scarborough, who was the congressman of Florida back then. Klausutis died in 2001 due to an undiagnosed heart condition while working for Scarborough. Trump, who has a long feud with Scarborough, published a tweet where he claimed that the latter was involved in the death of Klausutis.
The post reached the widower of Klausutis. This prompted him to write a letter addressed to Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey, asking Trump’s tweets about his late wife deleted.
Twitter refused to delete Trump’s tweets. Instead, what it did was add warning labels on some other tweets published by the US president where he claimed that mail-in voting is susceptible to fraud.
Similarly, Facebook had also taken a similar step last September. The social media giant followed suit and introduced a set of changes that aims to limit voter misinformation. Just hours after implementing the new set of rules, the company applied it to one of the US president’s post on his Facebook page. In the tweet in question, Trump cast doubt on the process of voting by mail.
Facebook is the largest social media platform. It has acknowledged the fact that its platform has a powerful effect on public discourse. For this reason, the social media giant planned to ban any new political advertisements on its platform in the week before the election day in November. Facebook also added that it would strengthen its measures against posts trying to stop people from voting. After the election, the social media giant said it would take down any candidates’ attempts to claim false victories. Facebook will do this by redirecting users to accurate information regarding the election results.
Just like on Twitter, Facebook’s reason for tightening up their policies about election-related information rooted in the US president’s claims that mail-in voting is not legitimate.
Furthermore, social media giants are aware of their roles in the upcoming election. For this reason, they are doing their best to serve people with accurate information within their platforms.
Date: November 19, 2020 / Categories: News, / Author: Joy P