Assembly Elections: Twitter Vows To Crack Down On Manipulative, Misleading Content
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S. (Photographer: Nina Riggio/Bloomberg)

Assembly Elections: Twitter Vows To Crack Down On Manipulative, Misleading Content


Ahead of assembly polls, Twitter on Wednesday resolved to crack down on content that "manipulates or interferes with elections" or contains "misleading information", as the micro-blogging platform outlined a slew of election integrity measures.

In a blogpost, Twitter said it is implementing "significant" product, policy, and enforcement updates that have been drawn based on learning from previous elections, both globally and in India. The measures are aimed at tackling poll-related misinformation.

Towards this, Twitter has expanded its team, continues to invest in technological solutions and has deployed tools backed by technology to detect abusive content more efficiently.

Twitter asserted it is taking proactive measures to prevent prohibited political advertising through comprehensive and nuanced enforcement mechanisms.

"A global cross-functional team with local, cultural, and language expertise will run our election integrity work. Their role is to keep the service safe from attempts to manipulate the platform and content that can incite violence, abuse, and threats and trigger the risk of offline harm," Twitter explained in the blog.

The platform said investment in technological solutions and deployment of tools mean that content that is most likely to cause harm is prioritised for review by the team of specialists to determine whether the content violates the the platform's rules.

Voting for five assembly elections will begin on March 27, with West Bengal hosting eight phases over a month. Counting of votes in the four states and one union territory will take place on May 2.

"Our goal is to make it easy to find credible information on Twitter while limiting the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content. In the context of these elections, we are focussed on Civic integrity and Synthetic and manipulated media," Twitter said.

Elaborating on the civic integrity policy, Twitter said it will remove content that manipulates or interferes with elections and is false or contains misleading information about procedures to participate in the election process, amongst others.

It also vowed to combat false information intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in the elections and voting, such as misleading claims that polling places are closed, polling has ended, or other misleading information relating to votes not being counted, as well as accounts that misrepresent their affiliation with a political candidate or party.

Asserting its zero tolerance for platform manipulation and spam, Twitter said it will continue to strengthen the platform against attempted manipulation, including malicious automated accounts and spam, as well as other activities that violate its terms of service.

"Inauthentic engagement, which includes things like selling/purchasing Tweet or account metric inflation (like Retweets, Likes, mentions, Twitter Poll votes), is a violation and we will take action on accounts that engage in this behavior, which may include permanent suspension," it said.

The platform also said that it has not observed any significant manipulation or interference but will continue to conduct proactive enforcement sweeps to detect instances of inauthentic and networked activity that may be associated with the elections.

Twitter banned political ads in 2019, the blogpost said, adding, "We believe that political message reach should be earned, not bought, bringing ads from political candidates and political parties to an end."

"We are taking proactive measures to prevent prohibited political advertising through comprehensive and nuanced enforcement mechanisms. These include identifying and blocking ads from referenced candidates, parties, and other election-related content," it said.

When people attempt to retweet content with a synthetic and manipulated media label, they will see a prompt pointing them to credible information.

"These Tweets won't be algorithmically recommended by Twitter, which further reduces the visibility of misleading information," it said.

Twitter is taking extra measures to ensure people have context to what is trending for them and will include a representative tweet, Twitter Moment or description to the top trends.

"As explained in our Help Center, there are rules for trends and we will prevent certain terms that violate our Rules from appearing in the Trends section," Twitter pointed out.

The micro-blogging platform will be launching an events page dedicated to the assembly elections on voting days and for the election results day.

"The page will include a timeline of Tweets from credible accounts to provide the latest information on the days of voting and election results," it said.

These will be visible to account holders in India in the Explore Tab, and will provide continuous updates and context throughout the election period with multiple language videos from a variety of news partners in the carousel.

Twitter has an estimated 1.75 crore users in India, as per data cited by the government recently.

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