Both social media companies plan to implement special protocols on Tuesday as election results begin rolling in.
- Twitter says it will remove or add a warning to tweets that declare election wins before official results are declared, as determined by national media outlets.
- When Twitter users try to retweet, the company will show them a prompt encouraging them to "quote tweet" (and thereby add their own commentary) instead, a move designed to slow the spread of misinformation.
- Facebook plans to display election results, as determined by national media outlets, on posts from candidates who contest the results or declare early wins.
As the results of the U.S. presidential election start rolling in Tuesday evening, Facebook and Twitter plan to remove or modify posts they deem misleading.
Twitter first announced the plans in October, but elaborated on them Monday in a blog post.
The company says it will remove or add a warning to tweets that declare election wins before they're "authoritatively called" by a state election official, or by at least two of the following national media outlets: ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News, and NBC News.
"We do not allow anyone to use Twitter to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes, and recently expanded our civic integrity policy to address how we'll handle misleading information surrounding these events. Under this policy, we will label Tweets that falsely claim a win for any candidate and will remove Tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with election results or the smooth operation of polling places."
Twitter also plans to remove or modify tweets "meant to incite interference with the election process or with the implementation of election results, such as through violent action, will be subject to removal."
A few weeks ago, we announced how we will handle Tweets about US election results. We want to remind you what to e… https://t.co/zGNbLXIu2x— Twitter Support (@Twitter Support)1604326131.0
Expect to see Twitter attach warnings — which users must tap through — on "misleading" tweets from candidates, campaign accounts, and accounts with more than 100,000 followers.
Twitter is also trying to make it harder for the average user to retweet misleading tweets by prompting them to "quote tweet" when they click the retweet button. The goal is to add a layer of "friction" that slows the spread of posts deemed misleading.
When people attempt to Retweet a Tweet with a misleading information label, they’ll see a prompt pointing them to c… https://t.co/gQUr2qGTof— Twitter Support (@Twitter Support)1604326139.0
"We hope it will encourage everyone to not only consider why they are amplifying a Tweet, but also increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation."
Another change: Twitter will prevent "liked by" and "followed by" recommendations from appearing in users' timelines. The company notes that, while this feature can help people access viewpoints outside their network, it doesn't "believe the 'Like' button provides sufficient, thoughtful consideration prior to amplifying Tweets to people who don't follow the author of the Tweet, or the relevant topic that the Tweet is about."
If we see content inciting interference with the election, encouraging violent action or other physical harms, we m… https://t.co/FdAz7uUvWX— Twitter Support (@Twitter Support)1604326141.0
"This will likely slow down how quickly Tweets from accounts and topics you don't follow can reach you, which we believe is a worthwhile sacrifice to encourage more thoughtful and explicit amplification."
Twitter's policy changes are the latest in a series that aim to minimize the influence of misinformation on U.S. elections. Of course, Twitter's policies are also likely designed to shield the company from accusations that it's eroding the quality of American political discourse.
Timeline of Twitter policy changes
Twitter listed some of its recent policy changes, the most impactful of which was its decision to ban political ads in late 2019:
- 1/2019 - Issued a comprehensive review of our efforts to protect the 2018 U.S. midterms
- 6/2019 - Launched public interest notice and defined our approach on public interest
- 10/2019 - Banned all political ads on Twitter, including ads from state-controlled media
- 12/2019 - Added Election Labels to candidates' accounts
- 2/2020 - Introduced our rules on and labels for synthetic and manipulated media
- 3/2020 - Held planning exercises to prepare for a variety of Election Day scenarios
- 5/2020 - Added labels and warnings to potentially harmful misleading information
- 8/2020 - Deployed labels on government and state-affiliated media accounts
- 9/2020 - Implemented account security requirements for high-profile political accounts
- 9/2020 - Built a U.S. Election hub containing credible news and voting resources
- 9/2020 - Encouraged voter registration and emphasizing safe voting options
- 9/2020 - Expanded our civic integrity policy to include specifics around pre and post election day
Similar to Twitter, Facebook wrote in a blog post that it will label potentially misleading posts with election results, as determined by national media outlets.
"If a candidate or party declares premature victory before a race is called by major media outlets, we will add more specific information in the notifications that counting is still in progress and no winner has been determined."
"If the candidate that is declared the winner by major media outlets is contested by another candidate or party, we will show the name of the declared winning candidate with notifications at the top of Facebook and Instagram, as well as label posts from presidential candidates, with the declared winner's name and a link to the Voting Information Center."
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, plans to temporarily hide hashtags on all "recent" posts, the company wrote on its website:
"Recent posts from all hashtags may be temporarily hidden to help prevent the spread of possible false information and harmful content related to the 2020 US election. Instagram is committed to reducing the spread of false information and giving people accurate information about voting."
After the election, Facebook and Instagram plan to stop circulating all political ads in an effort to block misinformation about the outcome. The company said this ban should last a week.
Got any embarrassing old posts collecting dust on your profile? Facebook wants to help you delete them.
- The feature is called Manage Activity, and it's currently available through mobile and Facebook Lite.
- Manage Activity lets users sort old content by filters like date and posts involving specific people.
- Some companies now use AI-powered background checking services that scrape social media profiles for problematic content.
Facebook is rolling out a new feature designed to help users delete old posts in bulk instead of one at a time.
The company announced Tuesday that its "Manage Activity" tool will allow users to delete posts en masse, or archive them so that they're accessible only to the user. Manage Activity will let users organize old content in batches, sorted by filers like specific date range and posts involving certain people.
Manage Activity is available today on mobile and Facebook Lite, and the company says it'll be functional for desktop users in the future.
"Whether you're entering the job market after college or moving on from an old relationship, we know things change in people's lives, and we want to make it easy for you to curate your presence on Facebook to more accurately reflect who you are today," Facebook wrote in a statement. "That's why we're launching Manage Activity to help you archive or trash old posts, all in one place."
Why is Facebook releasing the feature now? A company spokesperson told Recode that users and privacy advocates have long requested better control over past posts. Users have had access to the "limit past posts" option, which blocks the public from accessing a user's posts past a certain date. But there has been no way to delete old content in batches.
Social media background checks
Now, the feature could bring users some peace of mind. After all, the platform currently has more than 2.6 billion monthly active users, and some of these users created accounts in their teens, around the time Facebook became widely available in 2006. As these veteran users get older, it seems likely that many would want to delete years-old posts, whether because content is embarrassing, outdated or professionally jeopardizing.
Some employers now use automated or third-party background checks that scrape candidates' social media accounts. These checks can search for content that's racist, sexually explicit, criminal or otherwise offensive.
But they're not always accurate. One AI-powered background service called Checkr has even faced lawsuits from people who claim the company's algorithms made mistakes that cost them job opportunities.
How to use Manage Activity
It's unclear when Manage Activity will become available on desktop. But to learn how to use it on mobile or Facebook Lite, check out this instructional video from Facebook.
This could become a standard feature one day.
- Facebook has begun hiding 'like counts' in Australia.
- Earlier this month, a reverse engineer predicted that this would be the case.
- The new feature may help in reducing envy and other ill-fated social effects.
Somehow the concepts of 'likes,' that little counter of online social interactions, gained far too much importance in the complex web of people's lives and psyches. The less fortunate among us tie their self worth to it. Large numbers of likes spike their self worth momentarily. It often leaves people envious of those with more likes and even causes depression in those with less likes.
It's an absurd phenomenon when you get down to the root of it. It's also unhealthy.
Which is why Facebook is officially rolling out its new feature to hide like counts on posts, with the first trial run occurring on September 27th in Australia. The post's author will be able to still see the count internally, which is still an important metric for business pages, but the total overall count will be hidden from everyone. During the trial, public users will not be able to see how many people liked the post — or see who liked the post. This is to help combat 'like-envy' and mitigate herd-like behavior online.
Facebook hiding Likes
Facebook hiding like counts was originally spotted by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong. It was predicted earlier this month that Facebook was going to begin publicly testing its hidden Like features sooner than later. The new tests will be running alongside Instagram's pilot hidden Like count initiative as well, whereas Instagram began first testing it in Canada before expanding to six further countries in July.
A Facebook spokesperson recently told TechCrunch that, "We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people's experiences."
If the test shows positive results and improves user's sense of self worth, lack of envy and increased participation on the platform, this feature could spread around the world and even one day become a central feature of the application. So far now plans for that have been revealed or talked about.
The company's similar test on Instagram is being led by a separate team.
The tests have proven successful in keeping users engaged and liking on Instagram and many users have reported liking the hidden counts feature.
Businesses and creators on instagram are still able to view the highly detailed metrics on their dashboards and they can still track the number of likes on their posted content.
Competition and envy online
Facebook hopes that without the looming Like counts, people will be more apt to interact with one another and care less about how their popularity is perceived by others. It also may assist in getting rid of herd mentality and letting people interact freely with content that interests them for what it is, not just for how many likes it has.
For those more competitive minded people, they'll still be able to see the totals on their own posts, but they won't be able to compare that with others. Although, that might help them out in the long run.
If Facebook goes through with removing Like counts everywhere and it eventually becomes the standard, it could help mitigate the negative effects that social media has on many people's self esteem.
Why an early Facebook investor is now Facebook's biggest critic.
- Investor Roger McNamee joined Facebook as an early investor when the company was just two years old.
- In this video, he explains why he went from Facebook supporter to public critic, and why he came to write the book "Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe".
- The next billion dollars Facebook makes means nothing if it doesn't reform its practices, says McNamee.
Why virtue signaling does nothing.
"A big problem with moral outrage on the Internet is that it leads people to think they’ve done something when in fact they haven’t done something," says author Alice Dreger. Sure, you might get a little rush out of updating your status to say something, but all you're really doing is virtue signaling. Alice's latest book is Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar's Search for Justice.