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Twitter updates guidelines against disinformation ahead of U.S. election

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, Twitter announced a new set of rules in a bid to combat misinformation on the platform. The changes, which come into effect on September 17, will involve labeling or removal of tweets relating to election rigging or premature election results. By doing so, the firm wishes to protect against voter suppression and misleading content on its platform.

Once the new policy kicks in, Twitter will add labels or remove misleading information, which intends to "undermine public confidence in an election or other civic process." The firm provided a detailed description of the type of claims that it will be looking out for:

False or misleading information that causes confusion about the laws and regulations of a civic process, or officials and institutions executing those civic processes.

Disputed claims that could undermine faith in the process itself, e.g. unverified information about election rigging, ballot tampering, vote tallying, or certification of election results.

Misleading claims about the results or outcome of a civic process which calls for or could lead to interference with the implementation of the results of the process, e.g. claiming victory before election results have been certified, inciting unlawful conduct to prevent a peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, widespread usage of mail ballots in the elections is expected, which is likely to cause delays in tallying results. Experts fear this could permit misinformation to gain traction. Donald Trump, U.S. President, has repeatedly voiced his concerns pertaining to voting by mail (via BBC), stating that this process is susceptible to fraud. However, Trump hasn't provided any evidence to back his claims.

Last week, Facebook also said that it was creating a label for posts making premature claims of victory. It added that it would not accept new political ads a week before the election takes place, whilst Twitter banned all political advertising last year.

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