Twitter Inc. says it’s bringing back “prebunks” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, in a bid to stop misinformation before it starts.
In a blog post on Thursday, the company
said it’s reviving the practice “to get ahead of misleading narratives on Twitter, and to proactively address topics that may be the subject of misinformation.”
How does it work? Twitter explains: “Over the coming months, we’ll place prompts directly on people’s timelines in the U.S. and in search when people type related terms, phrases, or hashtags.”
Users of the popular social-media platform may remember the practice from the 2020 election, during which Twitter used prebunks to remind users that election results were likely to be delayed, as well as about the legitimacy of voting by mail. Donald Trump, the incumbent who lost the 2020 race to President Joe Biden, has a history of falsely claiming that mail-in voting leads to fraud.
Though Trump is not on the ballot in 2022, Republican primary voters have chosen candidates who support his falsehoods about the 2020 election. One example is Mark Finchem, an Arizona state lawmaker who has tried to overturn the former president’s 2020 loss in the state. Finchem won his primary in the secretary of state race earlier this month.
Besides reviving prebunks, Twitter says it’s working to prevent misleading tweets from being recommended via notifications, and it’s reactivating its Civic Integrity Policy. Under that policy, tweets that are deemed potentially harmful won’t be able to be liked or shared, to reduce the spread of misinformation.
The company is currently in a legal fight with Tesla Inc.’s
chief executive, Elon Musk, who in April agreed to buy Twitter but later said he was backing out. A judge in Delaware is set to decide in October whether Musk has to abide by the terms of his agreement to purchase Twitter. Those terms include a billion-dollar breakup fee.
Conservatives have long accused social-media platforms like Twitter and Facebook
of stifling their voices. An academic study published in April found that Twitter has suspended more Republican than Democratic users — but explained this was due to Republican users spreading of more misinformation than their Democratic counterparts.