Illustration by Alex Castro
Twitter announced a slew of temporary changes on Friday aimed at staving off abuse around the November 3rd US presidential election. Tweets that include premature claims of victory will be labeled, tweets intended to incite interference in the election or election results will be subject to removal, and tweets from political figures with more than 100,000 followers — which includes President Trump — that are labeled as “misleading” will be more difficult to access.
“Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation, and we encourage candidates, campaigns, news outlets and voters to use Twitter respectfully and to recognize our collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process this November,” according to a blog post authored by Twitter legal, policy, and trust and safety lead Vijaya Gadde and product lead Kayvon Beykpour.
The temporary changes will put the brakes on how most people can use Twitter. Starting today, users will be encouraged to “add their own commentary” before retweeting something, pushing them toward the quote tweet option instead. Users who choose not to quote tweet can still retweet, but the company says it’s adding “extra friction and an extra step” in the hopes that it will “increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation.”
Twitter also won’t provide “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people a user doesn’t follow and will only include trending topics in its “for you” tab for US users that include “additional context.” And when a user tries to retweet a tweet that’s been labeled as “misleading,” they’ll see a prompt directing them to credible information before they can retweet the bad info.
Twitter has labeled several of Trump’s tweets for violating its rules on manipulated media and civic and election integrity for tweeting falsehoods about mail-in voting. The labels have not appeared to deter the president, however. After Twitter labeled a false tweet about mail-in voting in May, Trump signed an executive order aimed at reducing protections provided to social media platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Last month, Twitter announced a new set of rules to address misinformation ahead of the US election, which included plans to label or remove tweets with false information about election rigging and results. It also said it would label posts from candidates prematurely declaring victory, and it banned all political advertising last year.
The changes will roll out to users in the coming days. Twitter says it has already increased its staff working on the US election to respond to any Election Day issues that arise.