Social media have never been able to determine the election result, but not in the way that it is … [+] loyal to the democratic process. If social media is used for nefarious purposes, it could be a tool that destroys democracy.

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One of the great dangers of social media is that misinformation and even disinformation can spread too easily. While this is always a problem, misinformation / disinformation shared on social platforms can have an impact on an election on election day. If claims about election results are shared early on or are completely false, it could discourage citizens from standing for election.

Social media have never been able to determine the outcome of the elections, but not in a way that is consistent with the democratic process. If social media is used for nefarious purposes, it could be a tool that destroys democracy.

Because of this, Twitter announced that it would take steps to stop the spread of false claims. The official Twitter support account (@TwittersSupport) announced, “We will be able to flag tweets from election night that will give statements about the election results before they are officially launched. We will watch the presidential elections and other highly competitive races in which they are held “Give priority.” can be significant problems with misleading information. “

In addition, Twitter stated: “Tweets can be flagged if:

1. The account has a US 2020 candidate label (including presidential candidates and campaigns).

2. The account is based in the USA and has more than 100,000 followers

3. You have significant engagement (25,000 likes or 25,000 quote tweets + retweets). “

The results of all elections are considered official only when announced by a state election officer or when calls are made from at least two national news agencies.

Also, if you try to retweet misleading information, it will alert users to more believable information.

YouTube after suit

The video sharing service YouTube also announced that it is taking similar measures for election day. In an official blog post last week, YouTube stated, “Our Community Guidelines do not allow any misleading claims to be made about voting or content that interferes with the democratic process. In addition, we have set guidelines that prevent hate speech, harassment, fraudulent practices and Incitement to prohibit violence. “

YouTube also found that “fast-moving events” like elections can lead to unconfirmed claims. To combat this, YouTube has announced that it will post election results information for a wide range of queries at the top of search results. Google, which owns and operates YouTube, also works with The Associated Press to get the “most authoritative election results”.

Maintaining electoral integrity

This was widely seen as a step in the right direction for social media platforms, according to experts.

“It makes sense for Twitter and other social platforms to analyze and flag misinformation on election day,” said Charles King, technology industry analyst at Pund-IT.

“As numerous parties are likely to try to use social platforms to spread false information on election day, the platforms must protect themselves and their users from such tricks,” added King.

These steps by Twitter and the other social media companies should also ensure that misinformation cannot simply be used to influence an election. In many ways, this is in line with the due diligence traditional media companies will use to complete the surveys.

“Source verification is nothing new to social media platforms,” ​​said Josh Raper, vice president of marketing for social media data analytics company Affinity Answers.

“Verified user identifications are widely used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Tik Tok,” added Raper. “They are critical to making sure that the information from reputable sources is actually coming from that source. We believe Twitter is trying to do this, and we believe it is incredibly important. Flagging tweets with election results information is against us Rather, language will protect against freedom by letting everyday users know who has access to accurate information about the elections versus those who may act with politically motivated prejudice or have potentially harmful intentions. “

Telecommunications Act

What is remarkable about the decision by Twitter and the other platforms is that they did not have to take this approach.

“We thank Jack Dorsey and the rest of the Twitter team for continuing to take the lead in monitoring online proliferation. Tech companies have hidden behind poorly written laws protecting them from what their users post on their platforms.” “suggested Josh Crandall, technology industry analyst at Netpop Research.

Crandall referred to Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act 1996, which protects technology companies from the equal responsibility of reviewing and reviewing content posted by media companies.

“In today’s world, it’s hard to tell whether Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are simply technical platforms or media companies,” he added. “After all, they are developing their technology in such a way that as many eyeballs as possible are captured for as long as possible.”

It is likely that Facebook and other platforms will follow suit.

“The technology these companies have developed isn’t just out of the box,” said Crandall. “Deliberate design choices were made top-down to create addicting experiences. It is imperative that the companies that make money by increasing the time and attention of their users on their news and other content platforms take responsibility for accept the negative consequences that technology has made possible. “

The biggest loser

While a winner may or may not be known on Tuesday night, it is likely that social media platforms can be the losers regardless of who actually wins. The losers in elections at all levels will blame, and there is no denying that social media platforms will be the crosshairs on Wednesday morning.

“It’s so worth noting that Twitter and other companies are likely upset about everything they’re doing,” said King of Pund-IT. “On the other hand, they have spent the last four years being massively blamed for not diligently treating Russia and others who hacked the 2016 elections. It seems like they decided it was better to to be careful of letting outsiders manipulate your platform for their own goals. “