AP NEWS

Twitter tackles election manipulation with new feature for flagging tweets ‘misleading about voting’

April 24, 2019

Twitter on Wednesday launched a new feature designed to let users easily flag content meant to mislead voters.

Introduced ahead of major elections scheduled abroad, the feature allows users to report deceitful tweets targeting voters in the same way as spam and hate speech.

Currently only available to Twitter users in the European Union and India, the feature enables users who encounter a tweet believed to be in violation of the company’s rules against election meddling to flag it accordingly through an accompanying drop-down menu as being “misleading about voting.”

“Voting is a fundamental human right and the public conversation occurring on Twitter is never more important than during elections. Any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values,” the Twitter Safety division said in a blog post touting the new tool.

It was not immediately clear if Twitter would make the feature available to U.S. users, and the company did not immediately respond to related inquiries.

Twitter and contemporaries including Facebook have repeatedly announced new measures meant to protect their platforms from being used to mislead voters following the 2016 U.S. elections, when Russian operatives weaponize those social networks and others to sow discord by spreading politically-charged misinformation.

Updated policies announced by Twitter in tandem with the release of the new reporting tool explicitly specified the type of meddling prohibited on the platform.

“You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when, where or how to vote,” according to Twitter’s updated election integrity policy.

“We believe we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of those conversations from interference and manipulation. Therefore, we prohibit attempts to use our services to manipulate or disrupt elections, including through the distribution of false or misleading information about the electoral process or when or how to vote,” reads the policy.

Neither tweeting inaccurate statements about candidates, sharing hyperpartisan content nor operating clearly labeled parody account are prohibited under the policy, according to the rules.

Twitter previously said that nearly 700,000 users engaged with accounts operated by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm accused of social media to wage “information warfare” against the U.S. in 2016. More recently, Twitter said that more than 10,000 automated accounts, or “bots,” were purged for posted messages discouraging Democrats from voting days before the 2018 mid-term races.