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Twitter adds prompts to remind you presidential election results may be delayed

As election day draws closer, social and news networks are increasingly warning that we may not immediately know who won.

Twitter logo on a phone screen, with an American flag in the background
Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

Election 2020 is unlike any other in US history, Twitter says, and so it wants to make sure we're all ready for how it may go. Starting Monday, the social media giant said it'll begin including educational resources in its app, warning people about misinformation and reminding them that we may not know who won the presidential election on Nov. 3.

"With so many more people voting by mail and potentially delayed results, starting today, we'll show you prompts in your Home timeline and Search to help you stay informed on these critical topics," Twitter said Monday.

The move is just the latest way tech companies, news organizations and government officials have been warning people that this election will be different from and likely slower than past cycles. The key reason is the coronavirus pandemic, which is still spreading rapidly after being first detected late last year. So far, it's infected more than 43 million people and killed more than 1.1 million people around the globe.

To avoid potentially spreading the virus even more, many states around the US have opted to lean on mail-in balloting. While it's a system that's been reliably used for decades, it often takes longer than merely tabulating in-person votes. And with President Donald Trump railing against mail-in balloting online and during speeches, media and tech companies have increasingly been attempting to educate the public about how they work.

"There might be a delay in the announcement of election results," Twitter will say in one of its prompts.

Twitter and Facebook have been preparing for election day, in hopes of avoiding any spread of misinformation, including a potential early victory announcement before all votes are tabulated.