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Facebook, Twitter combat voter suppression on Election Day

Facebook pulls down posts falsely claiming ICE agents were patrolling polling places for undocumented immigrants.


Facebook's election war room.

James Martin/CNET

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter were on rumor patrol on Election Day, pulling down misinformation that aimed to discourage US voters from heading to the polls. 

Facebook, which recently showcased an election war room, said Tuesday it deleted posts that falsely claimed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were patrolling polling places for undocumented immigrants. 

The world's largest social network also said it took action against inaccurate posts and memes that told Republicans and Democrats to vote on different days. Hoaxes and misinformation have spread during elections in the past, but social media users can fuel those rumors if the companies don't act fast. 

"The team is closely monitoring the election from our war room and are in regular contact with our partners in government. So far we haven't seen anything unexpected. We will continue to monitor activity closely and act quickly against content that violates our policy," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Twitter also said it was combating voter suppression but declined to share any details about what tweets were removed.

"Attempts to game our systems or to spread deliberately malicious election content will be removed from Twitter. We continue to have success in this regard and are enforcing our policies vigilantly, particularly against automation and voter suppressive content on the service. As always, we encourage users to think before sharing," Carlos Monje, Twitter's director of policy and philanthropy for US and Canada, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, ICE took to social media again to dispel rumors that the agency was patrolling polling places. 

Social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have been ramping up their efforts to combat misinformation ahead of the US midterm elections. On Monday night, Facebook said it blocked more than 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts that US law enforcement believed "may be linked to foreign entities." 

But Facebook wasn't the only social network grappling with misinformation on Election Day. There were also reports that some Nextdoor users on Tuesday were incorrectly telling voters that Election Day was actually Wednesday. A fake video that showed CNN anchor Don Lemon laughing as Democrats burned flags in celebration of a "blue wave" also circulated on social media, according to Snopes.

A Homeland Security official told Reuters that the federal government has received reports of limited misinformation on social media that targets voters, but that it's a regular occurrence every election. 

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