Around the election, social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter were praised for how quickly and widely they applied warning labels to misinformation.
But President Donald Trump’s 46-minute video last week, which was riddled with election misinformation and conspiracy theories discredited by his own officials and the courts, has made unmistakably clear what many digital democracy experts have been warning for months: labels are not enough.Social media platforms’ misinformation labels, they’ve said, are inadequate and ill-matched for the torrent of false claims that continue to divide Americans and jeopardize their faith in democratic processes.
Within minutes of Trump’s posts going up on Facebook and Twitter, the social media platforms sprang into action. Beneath the video, Facebook reminded users that Joe Biden “is the projected winner” of the election, citing Reuters and other reporting agencies. Twitter applied a warning label beneath the tweet containing the video clip, saying “This claim about election fraud is disputed.” Google’s YouTube informed users in a label that the Associated Press had called the race for Biden.
That didn’t stop the clips from racking up millions of views. Trump’s video, which he said “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made,” had been viewed 14 million times on Facebook and 5.5 million times on YouTube as of Monday afternoon. A shorter clip of the speech that Trump posted to Twitter has been viewed 3.5 million times.