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Trump takes aim at Twitter employee in crusade against company for fact-check

Twitter has said no one person is responsible for having applied a "get the facts" label to Trump's "misleading" tweets about mail-in voting.
Image: Donald Trump, Melania Trump
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to the White House on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.Andrew Harnik / AP

President Donald Trump continued his crusade against Twitter on Thursday after it slapped a fact-check label on two of his tweets this week, tagging a Twitter employee who has been scrutinized by conservative media.

The fact-check marker was applied, for the first time, to a pair of tweets in which Trump said there is "NO WAY" an election conducted with increased voting by mail would be legitimate as states seek to boost mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

The label takes users to a Twitter page that calls Trump's claims "unsubstantiated" and links to numerous articles debunking his assertions. A Twitter representative told NBC News this week that the president's tweets "contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots," adding that the company rolled out a new policy this month to combat misinformation.

"So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD," Trump tweeted Thursday. "How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World. Tell that to your hater @yoyoel."

Before Trump's tweet tagged him, Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity, was already experiencing a backlash, even though the company has said no one employee was responsible for the decision to label the president's tweets.

Soon after the fact-check, a New York Post journalist posted screenshots highlighting Roth's years-old anti-Trump and anti-Republican tweets, while senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway mentioned Roth by name Wednesday on Fox News.

Roth had tweeted sentiments like "I'm just saying, we fly over the states that voted for a racist tangerine for a reason." In one tweet, he called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a "personality-free bag of farts."

Roth leads a unit that is part of Twitter's Trust and Safety team.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded Wednesday, tweeting: "Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that's me.

"Please leave our employees out of this," he continued. "We'll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make. This does not make us an 'arbiter of truth.' Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions."

Trump signed an executive order Thursday asking the Federal Communications Commission to review the federal law that protects companies from liability for what users post on their platforms. Trump threatened to "strongly regulate" social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook or "close them down," tweeting that Republicans feel the companies are silencing conservative voices.

Some prominent Republicans, like Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida, had suggested making changes to Section 230 of the law, the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

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Both Democratic and Republican officials overseeing mail-in voting processes say Trump is dead wrong about the potential for widespread fraud. In recent interviews with NBC News, the officials outlined proven steps — most importantly, signature verification — that have been taken to ensure the integrity of the system.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has tracked documented cases of voter fraud for the past 20 years and found more than 1,200 instances — about 200 of which involved misuse of absentee ballots. In the same 20 years, about 250 million mail-in votes have been cast.

Trump has voted by mail himself, having voted absentee in Florida's primary as recently as this year. Meanwhile, amid Trump's attacks on mail-in voting, his campaign is trying to make it easier for supporters in Pennsylvania to request mail-in ballots for next week's primary.