Twitter says it labeled 300K election tweets with misleading or disputed content

The platform has stepped up its efforts to fight the spread of misinformation in recent weeks.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read

Twitter has been cracking down on election misinformation. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter added labels with additional context to around 300,000 tweets with potentially misleading or disputed content over two weeks that encompassed the 2020 US presidential election, the company said in a Thursday blog post. Additionally, Twitter said more than 450 of the labeled tweets were concealed by a warning message and were subject to limited retweeting and overall engagement. The analysis looked at tweets about the election posted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 11.

The social media company, along with other tech giants like Facebook and Google, has been working to battle election misinformation. Meanwhile, some social media users, including President Donald Trump, have been challenging the results of the election since it was called for Democrat Joe Biden, who won the popular vote with about 5 million more votes across the US than his rival. Trump has been using social networks to falsely claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him. Twitter has added warning labels to several of Trump's tweets, including one in which he wrongly claimed he'd won the election. 

Twitter also examined what worked to help curb misinformation and what didn't. Removing user recommendations on who to follow, for instance, didn't a meaningful impact on election misinformation. Twitter will undo that change on Thursday. It'll also undo a change it rolled out ahead of the election in which only topics with additional in-line context were shown on the "For You" tab featuring trending topics. 

One feature that seemingly worked well to slow the spread of misleading information was one that prompted users to quote-tweet instead of simply retweet. Now, when people hit the retweet button, they're shown the quote tweet composer and are encouraged to add their own comment. The overall number of retweets and quote tweets combined has since dropped by 20%, Twitter says.

"This change introduced some friction, and gave people an extra moment to consider why and what they were adding to the conversation," Twitter said in the blog post. "This change slowed the spread of misleading information by virtue of an overall reduction in the amount of sharing on the service."

Twitter said it's taking more time to study the impact of this change and, for now, is leaving it in place.

See also: President Trump's legacy: An addiction to social media even as he railed against it

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