ISLAMABAD: Twitter announced here on Wednesday that it was rolling out a new feature to report any “misleading” content aimed at “manipulating or interfering in elections.”
This was shared in a blog post published on the company’s website.
Noting that attempts to undermine the voting or electoral process was contrary to company’s core values, Twitter announced: “Today, we are further expanding our enforcement capabilities in this area by creating a dedicated reporting feature within the product to allow users to more easily report this content to us.”
According to the reporting process shared in the blog post , any user, who comes across a misleading tweet can go to the report feature, select the option “it’s misleading about reporting”, specify how it is misleading and then go ahead and submit the report.
Delving into the details of what could constitute “misleading” in the context of voting and elections, the blog post shared the following scenarios:
- Misleading information about how to vote or register to vote (for example, that you can vote by Tweet, text message, email, or phone call);
- Misleading information about requirements for voting, including identification requirements; and
- Misleading statements or information about the official, announced date or time of an election.
In a separate post titled “Election Integrity policy“, other scenarios of “voter suppression and intimidation” and “False or misleading affiliation” have also been shared as violations of company’s policies.
However, the new feature will only be available in India and European union for now. As a first step, it would be introduced on April 25 in India and April 29 ahead of elections of the European parliament. The company insists that it will be made available in other regions throughout the year ahead of elections.
The Indian general elections are currently being held from April 11-May 19, 2019. The elections for European Union parliament will be held between May 23 and May 26, 2019.
Human rights advocates have long expressed concern about the manipulation of political conversations on Twitter ahead of elections. Media Matters for Democracy monitored around 800,000 tweets in 37 trending hashtags related to politics during June 23-30 as part of its Trends Monitor initiative to investigative manipulation of political conversations on Pakistani Twitter. Using a specially designed index, which assigned a ‘human bot activity score’ to each hashtag based on eight indicators, the Trends Monitor report found that all except one hashtag displayed a “high likelihood of potential on-going hashtag engineering and manipulation.”
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.