Premature victory claims are being blocked by Twitter and Google in the run-up to the November US presidential election as both companies follow Facebook to combat the prospect of a stolen vote.
Under its new rules, Twitter will treat any tweet that makes false claims of election fraud or premature claims to announce election results as damaging misinformation.
The platform currently has no rules against such tweets as its misinformation policy is designed to only combat messages that may cause “immediate harm”. As of September 1
“Twitter is the place where people hear directly from elected officials and candidates for office. There they can find the latest news and an increasingly important source of information about when and how to vote in elections,” the company said in a blog post.
The new rules do not oblige Twitter to remove such misinformation. Instead, it may choose to label the offensive tweets, as it did with previous examples of election misinformation from Donald Trump.
Google’s guidelines focus on auto-completion for the company’s search, which suggests terms to search for based on the users entered. The company says it will remove any predictions that appear to be claims “for or against a specific candidate or party”.
It also removes predictions that appear to provide information about voting methods, requirements, or polling stations: For example, companies do not show searches as “You cannot vote by phone” or “You cannot vote by phone”.
According to Google, the rules don’t affect the search results themselves.
Last week, Facebook led the way with a similar set of rules announced by its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “This election will not go as usual,” he wrote in a post on the website. “If a candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the results are in, we will add a label to their post stating that the official results are not in yet and alert people to the official results,” said Facebook.
None of the companies specifically named Donald Trump in his statement on the new guidelines, but fears have been growing for some time that the president could take advantage of late results, partly due to the rapid increase in postal votes, and declare himself the winner beforehand true number is known.