The world took notice on May 26, when Twitter fact-checked President Donald Trump for the very first time. Trump posted a series of blatant lies about mail-in voting, and declared that “this will be a rigged election.” Twitter responded swiftly, saying that the viral posts contained “potentially misleading” information, and slapped a fact-check label on them.
But seven weeks later, and after a dozen similarly untruthful tweets from the President, that extraordinary step by Twitter looks more like a one-time aberration than the new normal.According to a CNN analysis,
Trump’s latest posts included misleading information about the mechanics of mail-in voting, flat-out lies that the system is plagued by widespread fraud, and false accusations that Democrats are using these new voting procedures to cheat. He repeated the phrase “rigged election” five times. Yet, Twitter took no action.
A Twitter spokesperson told CNN that many of these posts are “currently not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” even though they struck a similar tone to the tweets they sanctioned in May.
The distinction Twitter is drawing is that there’s a difference between questioning the integrity of mail-in voting as a broad concept, versus suggesting that voting procedures in a particular state are fraudulent. The two posts Twitter fact-checked in May specifically called out California.
This approach creates a strange dynamic. Untrue tweets about vote-rigging in a specific state are unacceptable and subject to fact-checking. But Twitter says its hands are tied when those same lies are spread on a national scale, where they could influence millions of more voters.