On Sunday morning, Donald Trump unleashed yet another unfounded claim about voting. This time, he suggested without evidence, that “Mail Drop Boxes” actually “make it possible for a person to vote multiple times.” His tweet also says mail drop boxes are not “Covid sanitized.” As with his usual refrain on voting, he rounded out the tweet with: “A big fraud!”
Twitter has labeled the tweet but is letting it stay visible. The label reads: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge that people will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not like, Reply, or Retweet it, which is the norm for tweets that receive this label.
This is Trump’s tweet.
So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2020
This is the tweet from Twitter support. Axios reports that the tweet stayed up for more than five hours before Twitter added the disclaimer label.
We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting. https://t.co/MA6E7mBpkm
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 23, 2020
The Twitter spokesperson told The Verge the tweet was staying up because “it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”
Twitter first labeled one of Trump’s tweets with a fact-check back in late May. And, wouldn’t you know it, that tweet also involved claiming mail-in ballots are fraudulent. He also added that mailboxes will be “robbed” and that ballots will be “forged.” Twitter added a link to the tweet that directed people to where they could get information on voting by mail.
Facebook finally added a label to one of Trump’s mail-in voting statuses back in June, but it wasn’t quite what Twitter has been doing; in that instance, Facebook added a link where users could get more information on how to vote in the 2020 elections, which is good. But Facebook is adding those links to all relevant posts by elected federal officials, not just ones that contain unfounded claims, like Trump’s.
Trump’s attacked mail-in voting (as well as the United States Postal Service) countless times, saying it’s “corrupt” and “horrible,” in spite of doing so himself. People are worried that voters will be swayed by Trump’s incessant demonization of mail-in voting, and even if his arguments don’t provide evidence, people may still walk away from his statements and doubt the credibility of mail-in voting. That’s a problem any time, but especially during a literal global pandemic, when voting by mail may be safer for many people.