A claim of election fraud from President Donald Trump prompted a huge backlash from Twitter, as the US election result hangs in the balance.
A claim of election fraud from President Donald Trump prompted a huge backlash from Twitter, as the US election result hangs in the balance.

‘Misleading’: Twitter blasts Trump

Claims of election fraud from US President Donald Trump received prominent warnings from both Facebook and Twitter, testing new policies from both major social networks and attracting criticism about censorship from his supporters.

Mr Trump published messages on both platforms before 5pm AEDT, claiming the Republican Party was ahead in votes but Democrats were "trying to STEAL the Election".

"We will never let them do it," he tweeted. "Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed."

The message - his second attempt after initially misspelling 'polls' - was quickly covered on Twitter's platform by a warning that "some of all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading," though the message remained available to read.

Some of Mr Trump's supporters were quick to claim the warning amounted to censorship, with son Eric Trump and others attempting to circumvent the warning by circulating a screenshot of Mr Trump's claim and the Twitter warning that accompanied it.

In a statement, Twitter confirmed it had taken the action in line with its recently updated "civic integrity policy".

Facebook moderators also added a message to Mr Trump's identical post on its platform, albeit it with a less direct warning that "final results may be different from initial vote counts, as ballot counting will continue for days or weeks".

Another of Mr Trump's posts about "a big win" only received action on Facebook, where moderators added a link to updated counts from the US election.

Both Facebook and Twitter revealed new policies on handling election content on their platforms this week, most of which focused on preventing candidates and other political pundits from claiming election wins prematurely.

Twitter spokespeople Vijaya Gadded and Kayvon Beykpour announced the company would add warnings to tweets "that falsely claim a win for any candidate" if they received "significant engagement," came from a US account with more than 100,000 followers, or an account with a US election candidate label.

The company also pledged to remove posts inciting violence or election interference, and would consider political contests won or lost based on announcements from state officials or at least two American news outlets from ABC News, Associated Press, CNN, CBS News, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News and NBC News. 

Facebook took a similar approach, basing its election calls on the US National Election Pool, Reuters, the Associated Press, and six independent major media outlets that it did not name.

Facebook integrity vice-president Guy Rosen said the multibillion-dollar company would also take steps to "remove calls for co-ordinated interference at or bringing weapons to polling places when we become aware of them, and had already removed more than 120,000 posts and ads from Facebook and Instagram in the US for "violating our voter interference policies".

The company is taking a more cautious approach to election content on its platform this year after widespread criticism during the 2016 US election in which Russian-backed messages reached as many as 126 million American users.

Originally published as 'Misleading': Twitter blasts Trump