Washington (CNN Business)Facebook and Twitter applied warning labels Thursday on President Donald Trump’s claims that voters should attempt to vote twice to be sure their votes are counted.
However, the labels do little to explain that attempting to vote twice is illegal. Facebook later updated its label, in an apparent attempt at clarification. But the ad hoc approach to Trump’s remarks just weeks before a pivotal election shows how the companies are still struggling to develop a clear strategy for addressing his claims.
On Thursday morning, Trump claimed on Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) that voters should visit a polling place in person to verify that their mail-in ballots have been counted.
“If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do),” Trump claimed on social media.
Trump’s online posts echoed remarks he made in a television interview with WECT News this week. But numerous state officials have said that attempting to vote twice is a crime.
“Let me be perfectly clear: voting twice is illegal, no matter who tells you do to it,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement responding to Trump’s comments. “The president’s idea is a great one for people looking to go to jail. My office will prosecute to the fullest extend [sic] of the law anyone who intentionally flouts our election laws.”
After Trump’s online remarks Thursday, Facebook applied a label beneath his post.
“Visit the Voting Information Center for election resources and official updates,” the label said, including a link to the information hub. The label did not advise users of the potential illegality of following Trump’s suggestion. The Voting Information Center also did not provide that information.
Hours later, Twitter followed suit, saying Trump’s tweets on the matter — and “specifically,” his suggestion to vote twice — violated the platform’s policies on civic integrity.
But neither label explicitly described what parts of Trump’s comments prompted the enforcement measures.
Following a backlash on social media about the lack of specifics, Facebook updated its label using different language.
“Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year. (Source: Bipartisan Policy Center),” the new label read.
But the updated label simply imported a general statement on mail-in voting from the Voting Information Center, and did not provide any specific rebuttal of Trump’s proposal on voting twice.
The labeling came the same day that Facebook announced limitations on new political advertising in the week leading up to Election Day. Facebook also said it would apply labels to posts that seek to delegitimize the election results and to victory claims by politicians before official results have been released.
On Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who is one of Facebook’s biggest critics, said the new policies were insufficient.
“Not enough,” she tweeted. “Facebook has repeatedly fumbled its responsibility to protect our democracy. Now the stakes are higher than ever—and they need to do more than make small, performative tweaks.”
Following Facebook’s action, Twitter applied a warning label on two of Trump’s tweets.
“We placed a public interest notice on two Tweets in this thread for violating our Civic Integrity Policy,” Twitter said in a tweet, “specifically for encouraging people to potentially vote twice.”
The tweets can be retweeted with comments, but cannot be liked, retweeted or replied to.
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