Twitter Labels Trump Tweets ‘Unsubstantiated’ and Adds Fact-Check Warning
For the first time, Twitter has flagged some of President Donald Trump’s tweets with a fact-check warning.
On Tuesday, Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mailboxes will be robbed,” among other things. Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.
Until now, the president has blown past Twitter’s half-hearted attempts to enforce rules intended to promote civility and “healthy” conversation on its most prominent user. Trump frequently amplifies misinformation, spreads abuse and uses his pulpit to attack private citizens personally and public figures alike — all forbidden under Twitter’s official rules.
In a statement, Twitter said Trump’s vote-by-mail tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labelled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.”
Trump has never previously faced Twitter sanctions on his account. The husband of a woman who killed in an accident two decades ago in an office of then-GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough recently demanded that Twitter remove the president’s baseless tweets suggesting that Scarborough, now a fierce Trump critic, killed her. Twitter issued a statement expressing its regret to the husband but so far has taken no action on those tweets.
Over the weekend, the president issued several tweets calling into question the legality of mail-in-ballots. The storm of tweets followed Facebook and Twitter posts from Trump last week that wrongfully declared Michigan’s secretary of state mailed ballots to 7.7 million registered voters. Trump later deleted the tweet and posted an edited variant that still warned to hold up federal funds.
The Twitter policy forbids sharing “false or misleading information intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in an election or other civic process.” While it has previously flagged tweets conveying misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never before put warnings on tweets for any other reason.
Trump replied on Twitter, accusing the platform of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and insisting that “as president, I will not allow this to happen.” His 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.” Twitter has banned all political advertising since last November.
Trump’s Scarborough tweets offer another example of the president using Twitter to spread misinformation — in this case, about an accidental death that Trump persists in linking to the co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.
“My request is simple: Please remove these tweets,” Timothy J. Klausutis addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week.
The body of Lori Kaye Klausutis, 28, was located in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach, Florida, congressional office on July 20, 2001. Trump has repeatedly tried to implicate Scarborough in the death even though Scarborough was in Washington, not Florida, at the time.
Twitter stated it was “genuinely sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are bringing, are affecting the family.”
Scarborough has prompted the president to end his baseless attacks.