President Donald Trump is seen tapping the screen on a mobile phone at the approximate time a tweet was released from his Twitter account, during a roundtable discussion on the reopening of small businesses in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 18, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
Twitter on Thursday slapped warning labels on several of President Donald Trump’s posts, suggesting the messages violated a policy against advocating illegal election activity.
The move is at least the third time that the president’s preferred social media company has placed a “public interest notice” on his posts.
“Our goal is to prevent people from sharing advice about voting twice, which may be illegal,” the company wrote in a tweet, part of a thread explaining its enforcement action.
The tweets, which were sent out Thursday morning and shared widely on the platform before Twitter took action, encouraged voters who submitted ballots by mail to go to their polling place on Election Day in order to verify that their vote had been counted.
“If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do),” Trump wrote in one of the posts that was hidden behind a label.
Trump wrote the same comments on Facebook, which placed a notice beneath the post noting that “voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year.” The Facebook label directs readers to the company’s voting information center.
Unlike Facebook’s action, Twitter’s move prevents users from reading the posts unless they click through a dialogue warning that the tweet “violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity” but that it “may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
It is against the law to intentionally vote twice. After the president encouraged residents of North Carolina to vote twice on Wednesday evening, the state’s top election official issued a memorandum warning that doing so is a felony.
Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, also discouraged voters from attempting to verify that their vote had been counted in person, noting that they could do so via an online tracker.
North Carolina, a key battleground state, begins sending out absentee ballots on Friday, the first state in the nation to do so.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president’s comments about double voting earlier on Thursday during an interview on Fox News.
McEnany said the president was “not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful.”
“What he said very clearly there is make sure your vote is tabulated and if it is not then vote,” she said.
Twitter, in explaining its actions, said that the “laws regarding the invalidation of mail-in ballots when individuals choose to vote in person are complex, and vary significantly by state.”
“To protect people on Twitter, we err on the side of limiting the circulation of Tweets which advise people to take actions which could be illegal in the context of voting or result in the invalidation of their votes,” the company said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.