When Mr. Trump spoke early Wednesday local time, it was clear what kind of long-fearing election scenario an anxious country would face,media reported. “This is a deception of the American public,” Mr. Trump said in a Speech at the White House. Frankly speaking, we did win the election. “The president is trying to mix his campaign with the presidency.
Mr. Trump’s victory manifesto is undoubtedly wrong — it’s still counting the votes — but it bodes well for his campaign’s intention to exploit the mis-information ecosystem he has cultivated over the past four years. So far, his strategy, as he has long suggested, has been to create a conspiracy using recent, Democratic-friendly postal vote counts.
On Wednesday, local time, Twitter hid three of Mr. Trump’s last five tweets behind warning tags, which the social media said were controversial and potentially misleading. Recently, the president wrote on Twitter: “They’re trying to make up for Pennsylvania’s 500,000 votes — as soon as possible.” “It’s the same in Michigan and elsewhere!”
At 1:15 p.m. Pacific time, Twitter added a tag to the Twitter feeds of some Trump-related users to tell them that the vote was still being counted. The users are understood to include campaign @TeamTrump, Eric Trump and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The tweets claimed victory in Pennsylvania, a key state for electoral success. Pennsylvania has not announced which candidate to choose, as the counting of votes is still ongoing. But the tweets were not hidden or restricted like Mr. Trump’s previous false election statements.
In another recent email, the president bypassed restrictions on participation in a restricted tweet and expanded it to his fan base, which is understood to have been retweeted 32,000 times. The author of the tweet corrected his original conspiracy theory about Michigan’s Democratic vote count, but it was too late.
Even before the election, the Trump campaign began spreading unfounded fears about the fairness of postal ballots. In September, a campaign video showed Donald Trump Jr. attacking Democrats for planning to add millions of fake ballots that could cancel voter turnout and overturn the results.
In the months leading up to the election, Mr. Trump repeatedly refused to make promises that he would give in if he lost. In the next few hours and days, Americans may see this position in real time.
Others in the Democratic Party have been labeled mis-information, even though none of these violators are actively involved in the race. Twitter is understood to have tagged a tweet by Neera Tanden, president of Center for American Progress, claiming Biden had won 270 electoral votes and warning that it was controversial.
Earlier last night, some states were also alerted. After Fox News singled out Arizona for Biden’s support, some political reporters tweeted on Twitter with a hashtag saying the results had not yet been announced.
Facebook and Twitter are at odds over how to deal with a president prone to spreading political misinnation. Twitter has issued a warning label for rule-breaking election tweets, saying they could “mislead” voters. A year ago, Twitter also gave up political advertising al completely. Although Facebook still allows these ads, the company blocked them after the vote and they are still valid.
Facebook has added its own set of “tags” to election posts that target posts that break the rules. In a direct response to Mr. Trump’s premature announcement of victory, Facebook also posted a series of high-profile messages on Facebook and Instagram to remind users that voting was still going on.
Of course, fake news is also thriving in harder-to-track places outside of Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube, from obscure chans to mainstream social media and back again, and will mutate over time. Earlier Wednesday, local time, Mr. Trump was pleased to make the dangerous remarks about his victory on live television — a remark that many news networks have so far had to broadcast. This is also a cause for concern.
Both Facebook and Twitter are preparing special policies for an election night with a vague ending, but their rules will be put to the real test in the coming days as concerns grow about political violence and the challenges facing the outcome of the election.