Twitter Inc on Thursday outlined a plan to combat the spread of election disinformation that restores previous strategies, but civil and voting rights experts said it falls short of what is needed to prepare for the upcoming US midterm elections.

The social media company said it will apply its civil integrity policy, introduced in 2018, until the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are up for election.

The policy relies on flagging or removing messages with misleading content aimed at dissuading voting or statements that are intended to undermine public confidence in the election.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken many steps in recent months to “promote reliable resources” about the primaries and voting processes.

Applying a hashtag to a tweet also means that the content is not recommended or shared with more users.

The San Francisco-based company is currently in a legal battle with billionaire Elon Musk over his attempt to back out of a $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter.

Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist” and said Twitter posts should only be taken down if there is illegal content, a view shared by many in the tech industry.

But civil rights and online disinformation experts have long accused social media and technology platforms of not doing enough to prevent the spread of false content, including the idea that President Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

They warn that disinformation could become an even bigger problem this year as candidates questioning the 2020 election run for office and rhetoric spreading in the wake of an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week. disagreements.

“We’re seeing the same patterns,” said Evan Feeney, deputy senior director of Color of Change, a black American rights group.

In a blog post, Twitter said testing of the redesigned shortcuts showed a decrease in retweets, likes and user responses to misleading content.

Researchers say Twitter and other platforms have mixed results in consistently flagging such content.

In a paper published last month, Stanford University researchers examined a sample of posts on Twitter and Facebook Meta Platforms that contained 78 misleading claims about the 2020 election.

They found that Twitter and Facebook consistently labeled only about 70% of claims.

In a statement, Twitter said it has taken many steps in recent months to “promote reliable resources” about the primaries and voting processes.

Twitter’s efforts to combat misinformation during the midterms will include information prompts to debunk falsehoods before they spread widely across the Internet.

More attention should be paid to removing false and misleading messages, said Yosef Getachev, director of the media and democracy program at the nonpartisan group Common Cause.

“It is not enough to point them to other sources,” he said.

Experts have also questioned Twitter’s practice of withholding some tweets from world leaders in the name of public interest.

“Twitter has the responsibility and the ability to stop misinformation at the source,” Feeney said, saying world leaders and politicians should be held to higher standards for what they tweet.

Twitter leads the industry in publishing data on how its anti-disinformation efforts are working, said Evelyn Dweck, an assistant professor at Stanford Law School who studies the regulation of online speech.

Still, more than a year after asking the public for input on what the company should do when a world leader violates its rules, Twitter has not provided an update, she said.

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