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US Elections 2020: Social networks battle with wave of misinformation

NEW YORK: The biggest social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, have battled with waves of misinformation amid a tight contested US presidential election that was called for Democrat Joe Biden.

The three big social networks had established policies for dealing with misinformation. The measures range from applying a label to questionable information to deleting posts and banning users. The social networks label questionable posts and remove falsehoods if the content has the potential to incite violence.

Among the challenges the social networks have faced: fake accounts posing as credible news organizations that falsely called the election, fake reports of Sharpies being used to suppress votes and live streams broadcasting bogus results.

Donald Trump has also used social media to baselessly claim the election was being stolen from him, creating another huge headache for the companies.

Facebook has a more hands-off approach to posts from politicians than Twitter, which has limited the reach of Trump’s tweets. On all election-related videos and search results, YouTube applies a warning that results may not be final.

According to a statement, by far the biggest challenge the social network faced has been handling posts by Trump. A post late on election night alleged without evidence that he was “up BIG” and his political opponents were “trying to steal the election.”

Facebook labeled the post with information that the vote count was ongoing and directed users to an election information center. Twitter subsequently labeled and obscured several Trump tweets and retweets, including one calling to “STOP THE FRAUD!” There isn’t any evidence of election fraud.

YouTube took down multiple videos livestreaming fake election results hours before polls closed anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, YouTube was criticized for refusing to take down two videos by One America News, a far right news organization, that falsely declare victory for Trump.

Despite the false claims in the videos, YouTube said they don’t violate the platform’s rules, which focus more narrowly on voter suppression.