Election experts reported fresh lies spread across Twitter and other social media services on Tuesday, as Americans voted in the midterm elections, four days after Twitter fired half its staff and its new owner. Elon Musk Tweet a recommendation to vote for Republican candidates.
The nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause, which monitors social media for voter suppression efforts, said Twitter took no action on the high-profile posts the organization on Tuesday called problematic.
The US congressional elections presented a new test for social media companies, which have struggled for years to balance freedom of speech with the amplification of potentially harmful comments. Although the company’s policies enable them to restrict misinformation, implementation has been sporadic, and the recent turmoil at Twitter has brought it under private scrutiny.
Right-wing voices on social media on Tuesday sought to falsely blame Democrats for voting glitches reported in some places.
Common Cause said Twitter posts from Republican candidates Marjorie Taylor Green and Carrie Lake should have included warning labels under the company’s Civil Integrity Policy, which governs misleading tweets about the election. Greene and Lake’s posts have attracted tens of thousands of likes and tweets on Twitter.
Common Cause also noted a “significant slowdown” in Twitter’s response time since Friday, when layoffs wrecked several of the company’s teams responsible for raising the profile of trusted information.
“Twitter is hopeless and doesn’t respond more than to reply that they are looking into something and then go dark on it for several days,” the group said, noting that the company’s response time was usually around one to three hours.
Twitter, which has lost several members of its communications team in the layoffs, did not respond to requests for comment.
Prior to Tuesday, Musk’s Head of Safety and Integrity and Twitter Yoel Roth tweeted that the company will support and implement its election integrity policies during the midterm elections.
More than 120 advocacy organizations, including Common Cause, in May – without success – urged social media companies to introduce “circuit breakers” to curb the rapid spread of misleading electoral information through popular accounts.
Discussions on Twitter on Tuesday focused on real voting problems in closely watched states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to research groups studying online election information.
Activism escalated after popular Twitter commentators attributed the malfunctions – without providing evidence – to Democrats’ attempts to suppress Republican voters. election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of research groups.
Former US President Donald Trump, who made false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him through widespread vote rigging, has posted on his Truth Social app that the problems in some states amount to a new round of willful misconduct.
Election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, said the problems that occurred Tuesday will not affect the vote count. Officials in Lucerne County, Pennsylvania, extended voting hours to make up for the problems.
After officials in Cobb County, Georgia extended the deadline for receiving absentee ballots because some voters did not receive ballots, false claims spread — mainly on Twitter — that the extension was intended to help “steal” the election, according to a spokesperson for the Southern activist group. Poverty Law Center.
Also attracting participation were posts unfoundedly warning voters that Wi-Fi networks at polling sites could enable voting machines to be hacked, Jesse Littlewood, vice president of campaigns at Common Cause, said at a press briefing.
The lies appear to have originated on the messaging app Telegram before they spread to the most popular social media services, according to Common Cause. A Reuters review found examples on Twitter, TikTok, and Meta (META.O) Facebook.
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