Twitter fact-checks US President’s tweets

Twitter has taken the extraordinary step of flagging President Donald Trump’s tweets with a fact-check warning.

The new warning labels appeared under two of Mr Trump’s tweets today, with a link to a fact-checked summary of his claims on the social media platform.

The President overnight called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mailboxes will be robbed”, among other things.

Under his tweets, a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” guides users to a Twitter “Moments” page which evaluates the President’s claims and – in this case – explains why they’re unsubstantiated.

The move follows years of pressure on the social media platform – which the President famously uses as his preferred communication medium – to stop the spread of misinformation.

Mr Trump hit back at the platform, accusing it of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “stifling free speech”.

It comes after the President drew intense criticism earlier today over a series of unconfirmed tweets suggesting that a television host he has feuded with committed murder.

The husband of a woman who died by accident two decades ago urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey remove the tweets suggesting Joe Scarborough, now a fierce Trump critic, killed her.

“My request is simple: Please delete these tweets,” Timothy J. Klausutis wrote.

The body of Lori Kaye Klausutis, 28, was found in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach, Florida, congressional office on July 20, 2001.

Mr Trump has repeatedly tried to implicate the MSNBC host in the death, even though Scarborough was in Washington – not at the murder site in Florida – at the time.

Mr Klausutis, whose wife continues to be the subject of conspiracy theories even today, wrote in his letter that he has struggled to move on with his life due to the ongoing “bile and misinformation” spread about his wife on the platform by the President.

Mr Klausutis said in the letter, sent last week, that his wife had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work.

He argued that Mr Trump’s tweets were in violation of Twitter’s community rules and terms of service.

Medical officials ruled that Lori Klausutis, who had a heart condition and told friends hours earlier that she wasn’t feeling well, had fainted and hit her head.

While there was no question of foul play, Mr Trump tweeted this month questioning whether Scarborough “got away with murder”.

He echoed that “cold case” allegation in a new tweet on Tuesday.

At Tuesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly refused to say why Trump was pressing the unfounded allegations against Scarborough or whether he would stop tweeting about them.

Dorsey did not reply directly to Klausutis’ letter and has not taken any action on the president’s tweets. In a statement, Twitter said it was “deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family”.

But the company did not say it would do anything about Mr Trump’s tweets and did not even mention them directly, although it did reference vague plans for future policy changes.

“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,” Twitter said.

The proposed changes include labelling false or misleading tweets as such, with fact checks “crowdsourced” from Twitter. It recently started labelling such tweets when they are about COVID-19 and is looking to expand more broadly.

But the company has not said when this tool would be available. Based on history, it is also not clear if these strictures would apply to Trump and other world leaders.

– with AP

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