News and Commentary

Twitter’s First Trump Fact Check On Mail-In Voting Was ‘Misleading,’ Other Tweets Ignored
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump announced via Twitter that the U.S. and Canada will close the border to non-essential traffic in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Late Tuesday, Twitter issued its first “fact-check” of President Donald Trump’s tweets, correcting a missive about mail-in voting and its connection to vote fraud, but watchdogs say Twitter’s first attempt at warning users about the President’s content was “misleading” itself, and criticized the social media platform for ignoring other concerning tweets.

Trump tweeted, Tuesday, that “there is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In-Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” and that “mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.” The president also claimed that California, which recently rolled out a universal mail-in ballot push, would be mailing ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.”

Some states are already having difficulty with mail-in ballot programs, and Republicans are suing the state of California over Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to “send every registered voter a mail-in ballot for the November presidential election,” according to Business Insider. But there is no widespread evidence of Trump’s claims of willful fraud.

Twitter descended on Trump’s tweets and issued their first promised “fact check,” dinging the president for false information about vote fraud and mail-in balloting. The social media platform declared that Trump’s missives “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots,” and directed users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots” through a link.

But Twitter itself, Business Insider reports, needed a fact check.

“When a user clicks on the ‘get the facts about mail-in ballots’ banner, it leads them to a Twitter event page titled ‘Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud’ with a Twitter-written blurb explaining the context behind Trump’s attacks on California and writing that ‘experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud,” according to BI.

The platform then goes on to claim that “there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”

Those two statements, of course, contradict, meaning that Twitter’s fact-checkers aren’t actually fact-checking Twitter, just the president. BI notes that there are about 7 cases of vote fraud linked to mail-in ballots per year, based on analyst estimates.

Other outlets, like Politico, complained that Twitter singled out Trump’s mail-in ballot tweets and ignored most others, some of which, they seem to feel, contain more ostentatiously incorrect information. Twitter, for example, has not issued a fact check of the Trump tweets that started the whole affair — tweets suggesting that former Congressman-turned-MSNBC host, Joe Scarborough, was involved in the 2001 death of a Congressional aide.

On Wednesday, Trump lashed out at Twitter, warning that the social media platform could face Federal scrutiny over its new fact-checking policy, and accused the company of interfering in the 2020 presidential election on the side of Democrats.

“We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters,” Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.”

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