Facebook added an information label to a post from President Donald Trump on Tuesday in which he claimed mail-in voting would lead to “the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History,” directing users to a nonpartisan government website with facts about absentee and early voting.
The social media giant announced last week it would be labeling but not fact-checking posts from federal elected officials and candidates that concerned voting as part of a larger effort to fight misinformation around the election. In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited “the difficulty of judging this at scale,” in his decision to link to authoritative information instead of passing judgment on the veracity of individual claims.
For months, Trump has railed online that the ramping up of absentee ballots by states in response to the coronavirus pandemic was a recipe for fraud that would allow foreign or domestic actors to steal the election. Fact-checkers have repeatedly labeled such claims as false.
At the same time, social media platforms have been wrestling with how to fight misinformation when it comes from politicians like Trump, whose statements, even when false, may be newsworthy. In May, Twitter labeled a tweet about mail-in ballots with a general information label, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” but a company spokesman went further, calling the post “potentially misleading.” The labeling led to retaliation by the president who later issued an executive order that threatened to crack down on “censorship” and targeted liability protections afforded to social media companies through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“Mail-In Voting, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History! #RIGGEDELECTION,” Trump’s Tuesday post read.
The Facebook label read, “Get official voting info on how to vote in the 2020 US Election at usa.gov.” The same message was posted to Trump’s twitter account but was not labeled.
This isn’t the first time Facebook’s label has been added to a candidate’s posts, according to company spokesperson Andy Stone, who pointed to more innocuous posts from Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, which were both labeled Monday.
Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in an email that the president's claims were accurate and noted that the label had also been applied to a post from Biden.
“The President was absolutely correct," she wrote.