Twitter and Facebook race to label a slew of posts making false election claims before all votes counted

President Donald Trump uses a mobile phone during a roundtable discussion on the reopening of small businesses in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2020.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Twitter and Facebook have been working to quickly add labels and clarifications over potentially misleading or premature claims on their platforms made by President Donald Trump and others. Some of those posts are receiving huge engagement numbers on the platforms.

Most recently, Facebook and Twitter labeled posts from Trump in which the president claimed victory in Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. Winners in those states have not yet been projected, except Michigan, which was called for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Facebook’s label informed users that votes are still being counted and directs them to accurate information from the company’s voting information center. Twitter’s label informs users that some or all of the information in the tweets is disputed and might be misleading.

Earlier Wednesday, Twitter said it was labeling tweets from President Trump’s son Eric Trump and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claiming victory in Pennsylvania, telling CNBC in an email the presidential race there has not been called by any sources.

Eric Trump’s tweet, “We have won Pennsylvania!” and McEnany’s, which says “VICTORY for President @realDonaldTrump in PENNSYLVANIA,” both received a label on Twitter reading “Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted.”

Eric Trump also commented “Looks like fraud!” in a Facebook post sharing images of tweets regarding the Wisconsin presidential election. Facebook’s label on the post reads: “Both voting by mail and voting in person have a long history of trustworthiness in the US. Voter fraud is extremely rare across voting methods.”

Both companies appended messages to another post from President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning.

The labels come after both platforms flagged Trump’s post early Wednesday in which he claimed opponents are trying to steal the election. NBC News has not yet projected the presidential election results, and votes are still being counted in several key states.

Twitter and Facebook both attached a warning over a post in which the president wrote, “Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!”

The Twitter warning reads: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”

Facebook, in its label, wrote, “Final results may be different from the initial vote counts, as ballot counting will continue for days or weeks after polls close.”

A Twitter spokesman said via email: “As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,”

Another post had been labeled by Facebook but not by Twitter as of late morning Wednesday.

Facebook’s label on that post reads, “As expected, election results will take longer this year. Millions of people across the US voted by mail, and mail ballots take longer to count.”

Twitter also labeled a post from Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, saying that Biden had won the state before Biden was declared the apparent winner later on Wednesday.

Facebook began alerting users early Wednesday that ballots are still being counted, after President Donald Trump falsely claimed that he had won the presidential election. The messages appear at the top of the feeds for both Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns.

“Once President Trump began making premature claims of victory, we started running notifications on Facebook and Instagram that votes are still being counted and a winner is not projected,” Facebook said in a tweet. “We’re also automatically applying labels to both candidates’ posts with this information.”

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