May 26 (UPI) -- Twitter placed labels indicating potentially harmful or misleading information on a pair of President Donald Trump's tweets for the first time Tuesday since introducing the feature.
The social media site placed the notice on two tweets in which Trump alleged the widespread use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election will be "substantially fraudulent." The notice directs users to "get the facts about mail-in ballots."
Clicking on the warnings directs users to a page with a text box titled "What you need to know," which features notes describing times Trump has previously made false claims about mail-in ballots and information verified by fact-checkers about their current implementation. It also includes links to articles from various news outlets and other tweets discussing Trump's past comments on the practice, background about the discussion and issues with Trump's claims.
Twitter representative Katie Rosborough told The Washington Post that Trump's tweets "contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots."
Trump responded to the action in a series of tweets directed at Twitter, accusing the social media company of interfering with the elections, calling the legitimacy of the fact-checks into question and saying he would take action in response.
"Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President will not allow it to happen!" Trump wrote.
Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Pascale, accused Twitter of political bias in a statement shared by CNN's Jim Acosta.
"We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters. Partnering with the biased fake news media 'fact checkers' is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some incredibly false credibility," Pascale said.
Twitter introduced the labels and warnings in a blog post on May 11 in response to misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on the site, with the goal of providing "additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information."
In the blog post Twitter identifies three types of misleading content that may be flagged on the platform:
- Misleading information -- which Twitter describes as statements or assertions that have been confirmed to be false or misleading by subject-matter experts
- Disputed claims -- statements or assertions in which the accuracy truthfulness or credibility of the claim is contested or unknown
- Unverified claims -- information which may be true or false but is not confirmed at the time it is shared
All three categories can also be classified as "moderate" or "severe" resulting in different actions.
Moderate instances of misleading information and disputed claims will be labeled, while severe instances of misleading information will be removed and severe disputed claims will receive a warning. Twitter stated it will take no action in response to unverified claims.
The post also stated that labels could be applied to tweets retroactively.
The action on Tuesday comes after Twitter said it would not remove several tweets by Trump alleging that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was involved in foul play in the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis while he worked in Congress.
Lori Klausutis' widower, Timothy Klausutis, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking the social media company to remove the tweets linking Scarborough to her death. Medical authorities said her death stemmed from a heart condition that caused her to hit her head on a desk while working in Scarborough's congressional office.
"My request is simple: Please delete these tweets," wrote Timothy Klausutis. "I'm a research engineer and not a lawyer, but reviewed all of Twitter's rules and terms of service. The president's tweet that suggests that Lori was murdered without evidence and contrary to the official autopsy is a violation of Twitter's community rules and terms of service. An ordinary user like me would be banished from the platform for such a tweet but I am only asking that these tweets be removed."
A Twitter representative said the company would make changes to its policies but did not say the tweets would be removed.
"We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family," said the representative. "We've been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward and we hope to have those changes in place shortly."