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Twitter Follows Facebook Cracking Down on Census Misinformation

February 12, 2020by Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg News (TNS)
The Twitter icon on a cellphone. (Dreamstime/TNS)

SAN FRANCISCO — Social media company Twitter Inc. extended policies meant to protect election integrity to the U.S. Census Tuesday, saying it will prohibit posts containing false or misleading information about how to participate in the national survey.

Twitter and Facebook Inc. have been criticized for their slow response to disinformation campaigns. While the companies don’t want to be held responsible for everything their users post, they have more recently agreed to apply stricter scrutiny to election-related posts, preventing those that lie about the time or place for voting, for instance. Lawmakers and civil rights groups have pressured the platforms to step up oversight of the census because it’s ripe for foreign government manipulation due to the implication the results could have on future elections around the country.

Facecbook said in December that it would extend its misinformation policies to the U.S. Census., a nationwide survey conducted every decade that determines how many seats in the House of Representatives each state receives, how federal funding is allocated and this year will be used to redraw state and local voting districts.

In addition to prohibiting false information, Twitter will prominently link to the Census website when people search on Twitter for questions related to the survey, the company said in a blog post. That means that users can get information directly from the federal government, rather than relying on other Twitter users for information.

It remains to be seen how effectively Twitter applies its policy. Messages can spread quickly on social media sites before the companies have time to apply their policies.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

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