On the same day that President Trump held a meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the social networking platform announced that it’s rolling out a new tool to allow users to report tweets which hold the potential to mislead voters.
As first reported by Buzzfeed, Twitter will first roll out the new tool for the elections in India, and then for the upcoming votes in the European Union. There’s no word on when the tool might be used for U.S. elections.
Twitter expanded upon the idea in a company blog post.
“Today, we are further expanding our enforcement capabilities in this area by creating a dedicated reporting feature within the product to allow users to more easily report this content to us,” said the post, which was attributed to “Twitter Safety” and not any particular individual.
The type of content being scrutinized under the new tool is somewhat narrow, and does not include perhaps expected items as candidates lying about things. Rather, the effort is focused on tweets that misstate the dates of elections, as well as messages that lie about voting requirements or eligibility — all of which have historically been common methods of voter suppression in the U.S. and abroad.
Also included under the jurisdiction of the new Twitter tool, per the blog post, is “misleading information about how to vote or register to vote (for example, that you can vote by Tweet, text message, email, or phone call).”
Users will be able to use the tool by app or via a PC.
Twitter has emerged as a major place where news consumers get their information, and is also President Trump’s preferred social network, one which he frequently uses to praise friends and criticize enemies.
Twitter will add a reporting tool to flag misleading posts about elections & tweets intended to suppress the vote or intimidate voters EX) saying you can vote by email, deliberately posting the wrong date of elections, misleading claims about long lines… https://t.co/TSyuKRXBrU
— Hamza Shaban (@hshaban) April 24, 2019
Per The Daily Beast, when Trump met with Dorsey on Tuesday for a closed-door meeting in the Oval Office, the president reportedly complained to the CEO about declining followers on his Twitter account. The president allegedly implied that this had somehow been manipulated by the tech company. Dorsey was said to have told the president that most lost followers come from bot accounts being removed by the company. Dorsey said that he, himself, has sometimes lost followers for that reason.
Political conservatives often accuse Twitter — and other social networks — of anti-conservative bias. These accusations of bias touch on subjects ranging from the banning of controversial users to supposed manipulation of follower counts, from story placement via algorithms to censorship. Meanwhile, many users further to the left have criticized Dorsey for being too slow to ban racist and harassing users from the platform.