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Twitter rolls out new tool to combat misinformation about US census

The social network directs users to the official website for the 2020 census.

Twitter on Tuesday released its plans for combating census misinformation. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter said Tuesday that users looking for information about the US census will see a link to the official website at the top of their search results, a tool meant to crack down on misinformation. The social network's move comes as the US Census Bureau turns to tech giants, including Facebook and Google, to combat fake news. 

Twitter also said that a policy that bars users from posting content that misleads others about how to participate in a civic event such as elections also applies to the US census. The census, which takes place every 10 years, helps determine which states and communities get billions of dollars in federal funding and the number of seats each state gets in Congress. 

"Ensuring the public can find information from authoritative sources is a key aspect of our commitment to serve the public conversation on Twitter," said Kevin Kane, Twitter's public policy manager in a blog post. 

The new search tool is an expansion of what the company already does when users search for content about vaccines, the coronavirus and other health information. It's unclear, though, how effective this tool works against combating misinformation. Misinformation about the coronavirus and the 2020 census still surface on Twitter. Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't send content to third-party fact checkers. 

One hoax about the US census claims that robbers were trying to get into people's homes by pretending to ask them to confirm their IDs for the upcoming census, a claim that fact-checker Snopes found is mostly false. That hoax was not only shared on Facebook but on Twitter too, according to a search on both social networks.

US lawmakers have been pushing social media companies to reveal what they're doing to combat misinformation about the census. In November, 58 Democratic lawmakers asked Twitter to release its strategy. Facebook, Google and Pinterest also bar users from sharing misinformation about how to participate in the US census.