The move has “dangerous” and “far-reaching implications,” and fairness and consistency will be hard to guarantee moving forward, social media experts told The Epoch Times.
On May 26, the president expressed concern in a Twitter post about mail-in ballots, saying that such a practice, if widespread, would lead to fraud and a “rigged election.” Twitter later added a warning label to the post that reads, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.”
The label links to a Twitter article that is headlined, “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.”
The message under the headline reads, in part: “These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post, and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”
The article also includes three points under the title, “What you need to know.”
The fact-checking label is concerning since it sends people to a list of content that Twitter deems to be factual, such as certain media organizations, as well as posts from Twitter users who aren’t verified trusted sources, said Andrew Selepak, social media professor at the University of Florida.
“Twitter is essentially telling users who can and who cannot be trusted and labeling content from some users as untrustworthy,” Selepak told The Epoch Times. “Determining what is true and false … is what a content publisher would do—and not a social media platform.”
If deemed a publisher, Twitter may no longer be protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and therefore could be subject to government regulation, Selepak said.
Users should decide themselves what they believe, he said. If a platform makes that decision for them, that platform becomes “more similar to a publisher than serving a role as a public sphere.”
In a statement to media outlets on May 26, Twitter said that Trump’s posts about mail-in voting “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context.” Twitter noted that the post doesn’t violate its rules because “it does not directly try to dissuade people from voting.”