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Twitter unveils US midterm election integrity plans, upsets almost everyone

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Twitter will now label and demote misinformation about the upcoming US elections, such as false claims about how to cast a ballot or the outcomes of a race, as part of a broader set of content enforcement policies it’s activating ahead of the midterms, the company said Thursday.

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The set of policies, which Twitter (TWTR) collectively calls the Civic Integrity Policy,-

is aimed at clamping down on “harmful misleading information about elections and civic events.” The company applies the policies during elections worldwide, and has enforced them in nearly a dozen other countries’ electoral contests so far this year, Twitter said in a blog post. The policies were in effect during the 2020 US elections, and Twitter faced some criticism earlier this year after the company acknowledged having suspended enforcement of the policies in March 2021.

In September 2020, weeks before the monumental presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Twitter began labeling and removing “false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election or other civic process.”

We will not permit our service to be abused around civic processes, most important elections,” read Twitter’s announcement on the launch of its civic integrity policy ahead of the 2020 election. “Any attempt to do so — both foreign and domestic — will be met with strict enforcement of our rules, which are applied equally and judiciously for everyone.” Now, for this year’s very important election, Twitter is reactivating this same policy ahead of the midterms, but with even more measures meant “to protect civic conversation.”

Twitter’s plans to foster a ‘healthy civic conversation’

“Twitter plays a critical role in empowering democratic conversations … People deserve to trust the election conversations and content they encounter on Twitter,” the social network said in a statement.

As mentioned above, the CIP casts a wide net. At its most basic, Twitter describes the policy by saying: “You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes,” which gives it a wide latitude to act.

Twitter’s efforts also include redesigned misinformation labels, which it rolled out late last year.

The social network claims a 17 percent increase in people clicking on debunking links, along with double-digit drops in engagement with flagged tweets.

Twitter is also bringing back “prebunks” that aim to get out ahead of misleading narratives. “Over the coming months, we’ll place prompts directly on people’s timelines in the US and in Search when people type related terms, phrases, or hashtags,” Twitter said.

State-specific and location-specific civic event hubs are being attended to, which will feature real-time election news from state officials and local news outlets. Twitter also has plans to release a national event page.

A dedicated elections “Explore” tab is also being added to Twitter, where users can find voter education PSAs, localized news, and curated national news.

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