Check your facts: Twitter takes tougher approach
In addition to disputing misleading claims by US President Donald Trump about mail-in ballots this week, Twitter has added fact-checking labels to thousands of other tweets since introducing the alerts this month, mostly on posts about the coronavirus.
The company does not expect to need additional staff for the undertaking, Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley said on Saturday, nor is it partnering with independent factchecking organizations, as Facebook and Google have, to outsource the debunking of viral posts flagged by users.
Fact-checking groups said they welcomed Twitter’s new approach, which adds a “get the facts” tag linking to more information, but said they hoped the company would more clearly lay out its methodology and reasoning.
On Friday, Chief Executive Jack Dorsey acknowledged the criticism, saying he agreed fact-checking “should be open source and thus verifiable by everyone.” In a separate tweet, Dorsey said more transparency from the company was “critical.”
The company’s move to label Trump’s claims about mail-in ballots separates it from larger competitors such as Facebook, which declares its neutrality by leaving factcheck decisions to third-party partners and exempts politicians’ posts from review.
“To a degree, factchecking is subjective. It’s subjective in what you pick to check, and it’s subjective in how you rate something,” said Aaron Sharockman, executive director of US factchecking site PolitiFact.
Twitter telegraphed in May that its new policy of adding factchecking labels to disputed or misleading coronavirus information would be expanded to other topics.
It said this week — after tagging Trump’s tweets — that it was now labeling misleading content related to election integrity.
Twitter’s Kelley said the team is continuing to expand the effort to include other topics, prioritizing claims that could cause people immediate harm.
A Twitter spokesman said the company’s Trust and Safety division is tasked with the “leg-work” on such labels, but declined to give the team’s size.
This week, Twitter defended one of these employees after he was blasted as politically biased by Trump and his supporters over 2017 tweets.
Twitter also drew Trump’s ire for putting a warning over his tweet about protests in Minnesota over the police killing of a black man for “glorifying violence,” an enactment of a 2019 policy that was long-awaited by the site’s critics.
In the tweet, Trump warned the mostly African-American protesters that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase used during the civil rights era to justify police violence against demonstrators.