Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are joining the fight against fake news
With the world still gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, the economy facing one of the worst recessions in history, and an election right around the corner, getting accurate news is more important now than ever. And Twitter is joining the fight to prevent fake news from spreading online. For the first time, the social media site that’s favored by President Trump added a fact checker to one of his tweets, labeling it “potentially misleading.”
On Tuesday, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that mail-in ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud. Under two of the tweets in his tirade, followers could see a link reading, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” that led to a curated fact-checking page filled with facts, links to reputable news sources, and summaries of articles that debunked what Trump had said. The truth is that mail-in ballots don’t cause an increase in voter fraud, and voting by mail would be one way to safely hold the November presidential election amid concerns about the coronavirus continuing to spread.
It was a move that prompted Trump to go on yet another posting tirade to accuse Twitter of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling FREE SPEECH.” He also wrote that he “will not allow it to happen.”
Twitter hasn’t publicly commented on that particular outburst, but did say that the original fact checker applied to Trump’s tweets was meant to provide “context” around the president’s remarks. “”These Tweets contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots,” Twitter spokesperson Katie Rosborough told CNN Business via email. “This decision is in line with the approach we shared earlier this month.”
What we don’t know at this point is what that means for Trump’s future tweets. Will the platform continue to take this stand, even when it comes to some of his more controversial claims? We can only hope, in the interest of spreading the truth and battling fake news so the American people know when their president is being dishonest.
This is the first time Twitter has used a fact checker on any of Trump’s tweets, but not the first time social media platforms have waded into the fake news battlefield. For some time now, Facebook has been using fact checkers to alert users when stories that are being shared widely may not be reputable. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has spoken out in the past about the responsibility he feels to ensure his platform doesn’t become a place for misinformation to spread rampantly, particularly after the 2016 presidential election.
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