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Twitter expands rule against misleading voting info after Trump tweets

The service has already been on a collision course with Trump over the president’s opposition to mail-in or absentee ballots.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.Chris Wattie / Reuters file

Twitter is imposing a broader rule against spreading misleading information about voting and elections, a possible challenge to President Donald Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots.

Twitter said in a blog post Thursday that it would label or force users to remove tweets that “may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process” such as voting.

The service has already been on a collision course with Trump over the president’s opposition to mail-in or absentee ballots. Twitter began fact-checking his tweets in May and has since done so several times, including last week.

The update to Twitter’s terms signals a potentially even more aggressive stance by the San Francisco-based tech company less than two months before the November election.

“The public conversation occurring on Twitter is never more important than during elections and other civic events,” the company said in the unsigned blog post. “Any attempts to undermine the integrity of our service is antithetical to our fundamental rights and undermines the core tenets of freedom of expression, the value upon which our company is based.”

The new policy covers not only methods of voting but also false posts intended to dissuade people from participating, such as misleading claims about long lines. It also covers misleading information about election outcomes, such as falsely claiming victory before results have been certified.

The president has repeatedly asserted without evidence that mail-in or absentee voting is associated with a higher risk of fraud, though he himself has voted that way and state officials have put in place numerous security procedures such as barcodes.

Other types of civic processes unrelated to elections, such as the census, are also covered in Twitter’s new policy.

The penalty for tweeting misleading information about a civic process would depend on the severity, the type of misinformation and the account’s history, the policy says. For a first violation, Twitter said it would lock users out of their accounts until they delete the offending tweet.

A different policy that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey laid out in 2018 makes any ban of Trump unlikely because the service says that elected world leaders play a critical role in public conversations.