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Twitter will limit retweets to combat election misinformation

With less than a month before the US presidential election on November 3rd, Twitter is introducing some temporary but fundamental changes to how its platform works. In line with recent changes the company made to its civic integrity policy, Twitter says it will label tweets that falsely claim victory for any candidate. Those labels will direct people to Twitter’s official US election page. “To determine the results of an election in the US, we require either an announcement from state election officials, or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets that make independent election calls,” the company said. Twitter will also remove any tweets that incite people to violence or otherwise encourage them to interfere with the election.

Another measure will see the company do more to curb the spread of misinformation on its platform. Starting next week, when someone tries to retweet a message that the company has labeled as misleading, they’ll see a prompt (pictured above) pointing them to more credible information. Ultimately, users will still have the ability to share these tweets, however.

That said, politicians who tweet out misleading information will see additional restrictions applied to their messages. If a US-based politician, candidate, campaign or account with more than 100,000 followers shares misinformation in a tweet, users will only have the chance to look at that message after seeing a warning from the company. Moreover, their only way of further engaging with the tweet will be to quote tweet it; they won’t be able to reply to the message, nor retweet or like it. Additionally, Twitter’s algorithm won’t surface the tweet in users’ timelines. “We expect this will further reduce the visibility of misleading information, and will encourage people to reconsider if they want to amplify these tweets,” the company said.

Starting today, the company is also introducing a change to how retweeting works on the platform. The next time you try to retweet a message, the app will prompt you to add context to a message through the quote tweet functionality. The goal of this change is to get people to consider why they’re about to share something. Twitter hopes that its users add their thoughts to a conversation as well. Twitter plans to roll out this change to all of its users worldwide on October 20th and will keep it in place until at least the end of election week in the US.

The company says it will also stop “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people you don’t follow from appearing in your timeline. “This will likely slow down how quickly Tweets from accounts and topics you don’t follow can reach you, which we believe is a worthwhile sacrifice to encourage more thoughtful and explicit amplification,” the company said of the change.

The final change US users can expect is a tweak to how the “For You” tab will work. For the time being, Twitter only surface content that includes additional context. As a result, an article or description will always accompany a term, summarizing why it’s trending.

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