Social media companies quickly tagged several of President Donald Trump’s messages Wednesday that sought to cast doubt on the counting of ballots in battleground states.
Twitter attached disclaimers on four Trump tweets over a span of about 11 hours, while Facebook did the same on six consecutive posts by the president.
Among the messages, Trump claimed around 1 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday that he was “up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election.”
Shortly after, he declared victory in a White House speech, even as votes were still being counted in key states such as North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada.
At around 10 a.m. Wednesday, Trump took to social media again to, without evidence, blame his evaporating lead in some states on a surprise “ballot dump.”
“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled,” he wrote. “Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!”
The president also retweeted a post that was later removed. According to NBC News, it showed a manipulated or misleading screenshot of an election map falsely suggesting that 100% of a new count of votes in Michigan were cast for Biden.
A little after noon, Trump returned to Twitter to write: “They are working hard to make up 500,000 vote advantage in Pennsylvania disappear — ASAP. Likewise, Michigan and others!”
Twitter forced its users to click on a disclaimer before reading Trump’s tweets. The warning said: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
The social media company also removed comments from three of the president’s posts.
"As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” Twitter spokesman Nicholas Pacilio said in a statement, according to NBC. “Our teams continue to monitor Tweets that attempt to spread misleading information about voting, accounts engaged in spammy behavior, and Tweets that make premature or inaccurate claims about election results. Our teams remain vigilant and will continue working to protect the integrity of the election conversation on Twitter."
Facebook placed a couple of different messages on the president’s posts. One read: “Votes are being counted. The winner of the 2020 US Presidential Election has not been projected.” Another said: “Final results may be different from the initial vote count, as ballot counting will continue for days or weeks after polls close.”
Trump wasn’t the only political figure whose tweets attracted Twitter’s attention Wednesday. Ben Winkler, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, tweeted that Joe Biden won the state before any news organization had called the race. A disclaimer was added to the post saying, “Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted.”
Likewise, Republican Senate candidate John James of Michigan retweeted a post saying he had won his race against incumbent Gary Peters while it was still too close to call. But Twitter had not placed a disclaimer on that post as of 1:30 p.m.