Twitter rolls out vanishing Fleets as it copies Snapchat and Instagram Stories – CNET

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Twitter says tweeting can be intimidating for some users

James Martin/CNET

Twitter, a social network known for 280-character messages, is giving users more ways to share their thoughts online including through ephemeral content and audio clips

The move is part of Twitter's efforts to encourage more people to converse publicly online, a task that can be daunting to users who are worried others won't like or share their tweets. 

"It is crucial that people feel inspired and have the tools and capabilities to actually talk and create content in order for the rest of us to stay informed about our interests," Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter's product lead, said in a press call.

On Tuesday, the company said it's rolling out a format globally called Fleets that allows users to share text, photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. Social media users have been posting more ephemeral content after Snapchat introduced Stories, a format that's been copied by other social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

audiospace-tweet.png

Twitter is experimenting with voice chat rooms called spaces.

Twitter

To post ephemeral content, Twitter users tap on a "share" icon at the bottom of their tweet. Twitter users will see Fleets from their followers at the top of their timeline. Twitter said users won't have the ability to share Fleets with a smaller group of people. Users also won't be notified if a follower screenshots their Fleet so they might still be wary about posting more candid remarks. Twitter, which has been testing Fleets in Brazil, Italy, South Korean and India, said its  research shows users do feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts when the content is ephemeral.

Twitter has also been doubling down on audio features. The company is testing a way for users to share audio clips in public tweets and direct messages. It's also experimenting with private online spaces where users can chat with others through audio like the social media app Clubhouse. 

Experimenting with more ways to share content could benefit Twitter because it would encourage users to spend more time on the platform, giving the social network more opportunities to display ads. Opening the social network to more types of content, however, comes with challenges and risks. Online harassment and the spread of misinformation is still an ongoing problem for social networks including in ephemeral and private spaces. The introduction of more audio and ephemeral content could make it more difficult to flag people who are breaking the site's rules. 

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Beykpour said the company has been focused on giving people more control over their experience on Twitter, including in new formats. "It's not just Twitter as a platform sort of policing what people do...that's sort of an impossibility for us to do at scale," he said. The company, though, will have to balance concerns that these controls could be used to exclude others who have different viewpoints.

Twitter said it's testing audio chat rooms called spaces with a small group of people who are more impacted by online abuse such as women and people from marginalized backgrounds. 

Maya Gold Patterson, a product designer at Twitter, said as a Black woman she's experienced online harassment including on Twitter. "It is a personal matter for me to get this right, and the team is interested, and the company is interested, in hearing first from this group of people on their feedback about audio spaces," she said during a press call. The designer compared spaces to feeling comfortable sitting at a table at a well-hosted dinner party even if you don't know everyone.

Twitter also needs to make sure that audio and more visual content are accessible for the deaf and blind, respectively. The company, she said, also has a team that focuses on making Twitter more accessible to people with disabilities. Twitter is working on making transcriptions of voice tweets and other media on Twitter available in 2021. 

Outside of introducing new ways for people to converse online, Twitter is also experimenting with tools to make the platform feel safer. The company has been rolling out new safety features such as giving people the ability to control who can reply to their tweets. Christine Su, a senior product manager at Twitter, said that the company is testing new methods where users can share private feedback or an apology. 

"That may look like a notification. That's like a gentle...elbowing from someone that you follow or it also may look like a nudge," she said.

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Twitter rolls out vanishing Fleets as it copies Snapchat and Instagram Stories – CNET

twitter-9919

Twitter says tweeting can be intimidating for some users

James Martin/CNET

Twitter, a social network known for 280-character messages, is giving users more ways to share their thoughts online including through ephemeral content and audio clips

The move is part of Twitter's efforts to encourage more people to converse publicly online, a task that can be daunting to users who are worried others won't like or share their tweets. 

"It is crucial that people feel inspired and have the tools and capabilities to actually talk and create content in order for the rest of us to stay informed about our interests," Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter's product lead, said in a press call.

On Tuesday, the company said it's rolling out a format globally called Fleets that allows users to share text, photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours. Social media users have been posting more ephemeral content after Snapchat introduced Stories, a format that's been copied by other social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

audiospace-tweet.png

Twitter is experimenting with voice chat rooms called spaces.

Twitter

To post ephemeral content, Twitter users tap on a "share" icon at the bottom of their tweet. Twitter users will see Fleets from their followers at the top of their timeline. Twitter said users won't have the ability to share Fleets with a smaller group of people. Users also won't be notified if a follower screenshots their Fleet so they might still be wary about posting more candid remarks. Twitter, which has been testing Fleets in Brazil, Italy, South Korean and India, said its  research shows users do feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts when the content is ephemeral.

Twitter has also been doubling down on audio features. The company is testing a way for users to share audio clips in public tweets and direct messages. It's also experimenting with private online spaces where users can chat with others through audio like the social media app Clubhouse. 

Experimenting with more ways to share content could benefit Twitter because it would encourage users to spend more time on the platform, giving the social network more opportunities to display ads. Opening the social network to more types of content, however, comes with challenges and risks. Online harassment and the spread of misinformation is still an ongoing problem for social networks including in ephemeral and private spaces. The introduction of more audio and ephemeral content could make it more difficult to flag people who are breaking the site's rules. 

Now playing: Watch this: Twitter flags Trump election tweets, Ford recalls 375,000...

1:25

Beykpour said the company has been focused on giving people more control over their experience on Twitter, including in new formats. "It's not just Twitter as a platform sort of policing what people do...that's sort of an impossibility for us to do at scale," he said. The company, though, will have to balance concerns that these controls could be used to exclude others who have different viewpoints.

Twitter said it's testing audio chat rooms called spaces with a small group of people who are more impacted by online abuse such as women and people from marginalized backgrounds. 

Maya Gold Patterson, a product designer at Twitter, said as a Black woman she's experienced online harassment including on Twitter. "It is a personal matter for me to get this right, and the team is interested, and the company is interested, in hearing first from this group of people on their feedback about audio spaces," she said during a press call. The designer compared spaces to feeling comfortable sitting at a table at a well-hosted dinner party even if you don't know everyone.

Twitter also needs to make sure that audio and more visual content are accessible for the deaf and blind, respectively. The company, she said, also has a team that focuses on making Twitter more accessible to people with disabilities. Twitter is working on making transcriptions of voice tweets and other media on Twitter available in 2021. 

Outside of introducing new ways for people to converse online, Twitter is also experimenting with tools to make the platform feel safer. The company has been rolling out new safety features such as giving people the ability to control who can reply to their tweets. Christine Su, a senior product manager at Twitter, said that the company is testing new methods where users can share private feedback or an apology. 

"That may look like a notification. That's like a gentle...elbowing from someone that you follow or it also may look like a nudge," she said.

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to urge lawmakers to build on key internet law – CNET

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Facebook and Twitter took steps to crack down on election-related misinformation.

Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey plans to tell US lawmakers on Tuesday that Congress should build on a federal law that shields internet companies from liability for user-generated content rather than eliminate it.

In prepared remarks, Dorsey says lawmakers should work with "industry and civil society" to address concerns about the law, which is called Section 230. Some of the potential solutions, he says, include "additions to Section 230, industry-wide self-regulation best practices, or a new legislative framework."

"Completely eliminating Section 230 or prescribing reactionary government speech mandates will neither address concerns nor align with the First Amendment," Dorsey says in excerpts of prepared remarks provided by Twitter. "Indeed, such actions could have the opposite effect, likely resulting in increased removal of speech, the proliferation of frivolous lawsuits, and severe limitations on our collective ability to address harmful content and protect people online."

He will also push back against allegations his platform is biased against conservatives, emphasize that the work Twitter has done to safeguard the elections isn't done and advocate for giving users more control over the content they see online, Twitter said. Dorsey is scheduled to appear beside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday in a congressional hearing about allegations of anti-conservative bias and the 2020 US election.

The virtual hearing was hastily called after the social networks slowed the spread of a New York Post article that suggested unproven improprieties involving the son of now President-elect Joe Biden. The move enraged Republicans, who viewed it as an effort to support Biden's candidacy. Given that their candidate, President Donald Trump, lost his reelection bid, Republicans will likely come out swinging, complaining that the companies harbor an anti-conservative bias, which the firms deny.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT.

The group holding the hearing, the Senate judiciary committee, will also provide another interesting twist to a Capitol Hill proceeding that could be more heated than most. Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who sits on the committee, has close ties to Silicon Valley and is friendly with Zuckerberg's No. 2, Sheryl Sandberg. She's also the vice president-elect, a freshly minted status that likely won't go unnoticed. 

Read more: Here's how to watch Zuckerberg's and Dorsey's testimony at the Senate.

The proceeding comes nearly three weeks after Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai weathered a combative hearing in front of the Senate commerce committee regarding a law that shields internet platforms from liability for most user-generated content. The new hearing, called Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election, will likely be a fiery sequel.

A growing number of Americans are consuming their news on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. This shift to online news consumption has raised concerns about the health of the media environment, as well as worries about the power that a small group of companies wield over what we see and read. Republicans say the companies are skewed against them and censor their views. Democrats say the companies aren't doing enough to combat the fact that bad actors have taken advantage of social networks to spread disinformation, misinformation and outright lies.

Zuckerberg will also likely deny he's censoring content to favor one political party. The executives will probably use the hearing to defend their companies' handling of misinformation during and after the US election. 

Obviously, the election has put a spotlight on political content, which tends to provoke strong emotions irrespective of your philosophy. Facebook says about 6% of content on the social network is political in nature. 

Twitter hasn't shared publicly how much of its content is political. The company said last week that it labeled roughly 0.2% of election-related tweets, or 300,000 of them, for including disputed or misleading content in the period before and after the vote. 

Both social networks have grappled with an onslaught of conspiracy theories, as well as false claims about voter fraud and even who won the election. Major news outlets called the presidential race for Biden, the Democratic challenger, more than a week ago. Trump hadn't conceded as of Monday morning.

Twitter took a tougher stance than Facebook did against election misinformation by limiting the reach of tweets, including some of Trump's. Both Facebook and Twitter labeled Trump posts that included baseless claims about voter fraud, and directed users to online hubs with authoritative election information. Facebook pulled down a massive user group that falsely alleged Democrats were trying to steal the election, after some members called for violence.

Zuckerberg and Dorsey, already political piñatas, have experience getting smacked by senators. In late October, Dorsey sparred with Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, over Twitter's decision to block links to the Post that included allegations about Biden's son Hunter. Twitter said it blocked the links because the article violated rules against sharing hacked materials and personal information. But the company executed a quick about-face and stopped blocking the link. It later tweaked the policy again, developments that Cruz, who sits on the judiciary committee, will likely seize on.

Other notables on the committee include Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who chairs it and is a key ally of the president, and Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who's a vocal critic of Facebook and Twitter. Notable Democrats on the committee include Harris, who's criticized Facebook in the past for not doing enough to combat misinformation, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents Minnesota and is being mentioned for positions in the Biden administration.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg: Bannon hasn’t violated rules enough for suspension – CNET

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to employees during a meeting on Thursday.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon doesn't merit a suspension despite urging the beheadings of two high-ranking government employees, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Last week, the world's largest social network removed two videos from Bannon's official page after he said that the heads of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be displayed on pikes at the White House "as a warning to federal bureaucrats." Facebook said the videos broke its rules against inciting violence. 

Zuckerberg, however, said Bannon hadn't broken the rules enough times to be suspended.

"We have specific rules around how many times you need to violate certain policies before we will deactivate your account completely," Zuckerberg told employees, according to Reuters, which heard a recording of the internal meeting. "While the offenses here, I think, came close to crossing that line, they clearly did not cross the line."

Facebook's relatively restrained action contrasted with Twitter's response to the video. Twitter permanently suspended the account @WarRoomPandemic for violating its policy against glorifying violence. YouTube, which has a three-strikes policy, took down Bannon's video for violating its rules against inciting violence and issued a strike against his account.

The decision not to suspend Bannon's Facebook account has sparked criticism from Democrats, who say the social network doesn't do enough to combat hate speech and misinformation. Zuckerberg will face some of those, including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris next week when he's scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"If calling for the beheading of your political enemies isn't in your [company's] policy to [suspend] an account, you should probably re-evaluate your policies?," Megan Clasen, a media advisor for President-elect Joe Biden, tweeted on Thursday.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook's policy against inciting violence states the company "will remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety." It doesn't specify when it would disable an account versus just removing the content that calls for violence.

Zuckerberg, who has not made any public comments about Biden's presidential win, also told employees that the Democrat "is going to be our next president," BuzzFeed News reported. The social network has been labeling false claims about voter fraud, noting that media outlets projected Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

"I believe the outcome of the election is now clear and Joe Biden is going to be our next president," Zuckerberg said in a recording of an employee meeting obtained by BuzzFeed News. "It's important that people have confidence that the election was fundamentally fair, and that goes for the tens of millions of people that voted for Trump."

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Facebook, Google face criticism over political-ad bans ahead of Senate runoffs in Georgia – CNET

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Facebook and Google banned political ads after Election Day on Nov. 3.

Getty

Facebook and Google banned political ads after Election Day to limit the spread of misinformation, but that's sparked criticism ahead of two Georgia runoff elections that'll likely decide which party controls the US Senate.

When both companies banned political ads, they didn't say when the prohibitions would end. Facebook initially said its ban was indefinite but in an update Wednesday to an earlier blog post, the company told advertisers to expect the prohibition to last another month. Google had said its political-ad ban would last at least a week but that it could go on longer. A Wednesday report by The Wall Street Journal said the search giant has told advertisers it's unlikely to lift the ban this month or in December

The ongoing political-ad ban comes as two US Senate runoff elections are set to take place on Jan. 5. Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both seeking reelection, each fall short of the 50% majority of votes needed to avoid a runoff. The outcome of the runoffs is critical because Democrats need to win both those seats to gain control of the Senate. Capturing those seats would result in a 50-50 tie in the Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could then break any tie votes in the chamber, a situation that would pave the way for Democrats to pass new policies.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday slammed the actions by Facebook and Google, calling the ad bans "voter suppression."

"Organic disinformation is the actual problem on these platforms, and continuing to ban ads is now actively harmful to organizations working to inform Georgia's diverse voters about the January runoffs. These ad bans are voter suppression plain and simple, they directly benefit Republican senators, and at a minimum there should be an exemption for ads in Georgia over the next two months," DSCC Executive Director Scott Fairchild said in a statement. 

Facebook and Google didn't respond to questions about whether they're considering an exemption.

"The temporary pause for ads about politics and social issues in the US continues to be in place as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the election," Facebook said in a blog post.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Facebook, Google face criticism over political-ad bans ahead of Senate runoffs in Georgia – CNET

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Facebook and Google banned political ads after Election Day on Nov. 3.

Getty

Facebook and Google banned political ads after Election Day to limit the spread of misinformation, but that's sparked criticism ahead of two Georgia runoff elections that'll likely decide which party controls the US Senate.

When both companies banned political ads, they didn't say when the prohibitions would end. Facebook initially said its ban was indefinite but in an update Wednesday to an earlier blog post, the company told advertisers to expect the prohibition to last another month. Google had said its political-ad ban would last at least a week but that it could go on longer. A Wednesday report by The Wall Street Journal said the search giant has told advertisers it's unlikely to lift the ban this month or in December

The ongoing political-ad ban comes as two US Senate runoff elections are set to take place on Jan. 5. Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both seeking reelection, each fall short of the 50% majority of votes needed to avoid a runoff. The outcome of the runoffs is critical because Democrats need to win both those seats to gain control of the Senate. Capturing those seats would result in a 50-50 tie in the Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could then break any tie votes in the chamber, a situation that would pave the way for Democrats to pass new policies.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Wednesday slammed the actions by Facebook and Google, calling the ad bans "voter suppression."

"Organic disinformation is the actual problem on these platforms, and continuing to ban ads is now actively harmful to organizations working to inform Georgia's diverse voters about the January runoffs. These ad bans are voter suppression plain and simple, they directly benefit Republican senators, and at a minimum there should be an exemption for ads in Georgia over the next two months," DSCC Executive Director Scott Fairchild said in a statement. 

Facebook and Google didn't respond to questions about whether they're considering an exemption.

"The temporary pause for ads about politics and social issues in the US continues to be in place as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the election," Facebook said in a blog post.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Facebook shuts down massive group pushing false election fraud claims – CNET

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Facebook has been cracking down on misinformation about the US election. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook on Thursday shut down a group with more than 364,000 members that was spreading misinformation about voter fraud.

The public group, called STOP THE STEAL, was pushing false claims that Democrats are trying to "steal" the US presidential election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. 

"In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group 'Stop the Steal,' which was creating real-world events," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group."

Facebook groups are online spaces where people gather to chat about shared interests such as cooking, hiking or parenting. But groups, which can be public or private, have also been filled with misinformation about various topics, including the election and the coronavirus. Earlier Thursday, civil rights activists were calling on the social network to shut down the Stop the Steal group. The group's membership quickly swelled to hundreds of thousands after it was created Wednesday.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate, which was tracking the group, posted screenshots on Twitter of the Stop the Steal group members calling for violence. In one post, a group member urged military veterans to join a "fire mission" in battleground states. Another post stated that it was "Time to clean the guns, time to hit the streets."The group was also asking users to join rallies in Arizona, Georgia, Florida and other states, according to information from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics tool. 

The group also appeared to be anticipating action by Facebook and was asking members to sign up for updates on a separate website. Members were pushing false claims that Trump had already won the election and that an alleged deep state "froze the election" even though votes are still being counted and a winner hasn't been called. 

The group was started by a conservative organization called Women for America First, according to a page that was archived before it was pulled down. 

Amy Kremer, a political activist with ties to the fiscally conservative Tea Party Movement, and her daughter Kylie founded Women for America First. Kremer accused Facebook in a tweet on Thursday of political bias. The social network has repeatedly denied such allegations. "The left is trying to steal an election and Social media is complicit," Kremer tweeted. 

Kylie Jane Kremer said in a statement that Facebook was intentionally trying to silence conservatives. "Our group was formed to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are concerned about the vote counting process. It is absolutely beyond the pale that Facebook would selectively choose to shut down our group. Is this the same standard they are applying to left wing groups?" she said in a statement.

Some activists say Facebook took too long to shutter the group. There are still Stop the Steal group members on Facebook and new ones continue to pop up, illustrating how content moderation can be a game of whack-a-mole for social networks. 

"Facebook has repeatedly abdicated any responsibility to prevent its platform from being a breeding ground for radicalization and calls to violence, which is exactly what is happening now in groups managed exclusively by the people promoting the bad behavior," Michelle Kuppersmith, the executive director of Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group, said in a statement.

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On Election Day, Twitter battles voting misinformation – CNET

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Misinformation is a top concern for social media sites like Twitter on Election Day.

Angela Lang/CNET

Twitter faced another onslaught of misinformation on Tuesday, including false claims that voters can cast ballots after Election Day.

The company pulled down several tweets with inaccurate information about when to vote because the posts violated the social network's rules. 

Tweets containing the false claim that people can vote on Nov. 4 depending on their political party began popping up early Tuesday as Americans headed to the polls to choose between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Polls close on Tuesday.

The false tweets are an example of the type of misinformation social networks are scrambling to combat on Election Day. Social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have rules against posting content designed to suppress voting or intimidate people from casting their ballots. Twitter's rules say it'll label or remove false or misleading information about how to participate in an election.

Twitter has also been labeling and reducing the reach of tweets that contain unverified or false claims about voter fraud in Pennsylvania, a battleground state. The company labeled several tweets from Mike Roman, the Trump campaign's director of Election Day operations, that contained misleading claims about voting. In one tweet that was labeled with a notice that states "Learn about US 2020 election security efforts," Roman falsely claims that Democrat election officials are banning Trump poll watchers in Philadelphia. "The steal is on!," he tweeted. 

A poll watcher was denied access to one polling site in Philadelphia because of a misunderstanding about the law but was allowed into another site, PolitiFact reported. Zignal Labs, which analyzes data from social media and news outlets, said Tuesday that keywords related to "steal" or "stealing" including a hashtag that contain allegations that Democrats are trying to steal the election had more than 119,000 mentions today.

CNET found more than two dozen tweets that included inaccurate claims that either Republicans or Democrats could vote on Wednesday. It's unclear if the tweets are jokes or were designed to deceive voters. When asked if there was an exception for satire in Twitter's rules against voter suppression, a company spokesman said Twitter will remove tweets that violate its rules. The company didn't say how many of these tweets have been removed, but some of them remain online. 

Read more: It's Election Day: How to spot misinformation while you wait for results

In one of the tweets that was pulled down, a user falsely claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had passed a bill giving Democrats an extra day to vote. The user urged Democrats to head to the polls on Wednesday instead of waiting in long lines on Election Day. 

In another removed tweet, a user falsely claimed that Republicans are supposed to vote on Wednesday "in order to stop larger groups at the polls because of Covid." Some of the tweets that are still up falsely state that Election Day was split into two days for each party.

Twitter wasn't the only social network dealing with confusing messages about the voting deadline. Facebook-owned Instagram said that on Tuesday, some users saw a message reading "Tomorrow is Election Day." The message, actually delivered on Monday, was in the app's cache for a "small group of people" if they hadn't restarted the app. The notice now reads "It's the Last Day to Vote." 

Facebook didn't respond to questions about how much voter suppression content it's removed. 

Government officials on Tuesday warned voters about receiving scam robocalls that urge voters to vote on Wednesday because of long lines. Facebook and Twitter also suspended several right-wing news accounts on Tuesday for violating its rules, Reuters reported

As polls continue to close across the US, social networks are also keeping their eye on premature claims of victory. 

On Tuesday night, Twitter labeled a tweet from the Trump campaign that claimed victory in South Carolina. "Official sources may not have called the race when this was tweeted," the label stated. Twitter said Monday it will consider a result official if it's announced by a state official or the calls are made by at least two of seven national news outlets. Those outlets include ABC, the Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC News or Decision Desk HQ. An identical post about South Carolina appeared on the Trump's campaign Facebook page but wasn't labeled for declaring premature victory. Instead, users were directed to Facebook's Voting Information Center.

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Here’s how social media companies are fighting election misinformation – CNET

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The 2020 presidential election is putting social media to the test.

Getty Images
This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Social networks came under fire after Russian trolls used them to sow discord among Americans during the 2016 US presidential election. Now Facebook, Twitter and Google say they're better prepared to tackle misinformation during this year's presidential election. 

Facebook and Google, which owns the YouTube video-sharing service, have created databases that allow anyone to check the source of a political ad, who financed the message and how much was spent. Twitter banned political ads last year. Facebook works with third-party fact-checkers, though it exempts posts by politicians from this program. All of the social networks label problem posts, directing users to online hubs that include election information from authoritative sources. (Short-form video app TikTok, another popular social media network, also launched a US elections guide and said it will also reduce the spread of misleading videos.)

The efforts to combat misinformation come as social media companies weather a storm of criticism from all quarters about the Nov. 3 election, which major news organizations called for Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday morning. Conservatives supporting Republican President Donald Trump say social networks suppressed their speech in an effort to sway the election. The companies deny the allegations. Liberals say the companies haven't done enough to stamp out fake news. 

Read moreIt's Election Day: How to avoid getting fooled by misinformation

All of these companies are faced an onslaught of misinformation while votes were being counted and will likely see new waves now that the contest has been called. Here are the ways the big three social media companies are trying to limit the spread of misinformation.

Facebook

  • Facebook let users turn off all political ads on both the social network's main site and its Instagram photo-sharing service ahead of the election. 
  • Facebook and Instagram launched an online hub for US users for information about voting, including registration, mail-in voting and election-related deadlines. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company helped an estimated 4.4 million Americans register to vote. 
  • The social network stopped accepting new political or issue advertising during the final week of the campaign and will expand policies addressing voter suppression. Facebook will also temporarily halt all election and issue ads after Nov. 3 for an indefinite period of time. 
  • The company will also label posts from politicians who declare premature victory. 
  • Facebook is removing fake accounts designed to mislead others about their identity and purpose, including some with ties to Iran and Russia. The social network has also cracked down on accounts related to QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory falsely alleging there's a deep state plot against Trump. 
  • Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp, both messaging apps, are limiting message forwarding.
  • Facebook temporarily suspended recommendations for new and political groups, online spaces where users gather to chat about shared interests. 
  • Facebook is demoting content on the social network and Instagram that may contain misinformation. The company is also limiting the distribution of live videos about the election. On Facebook and Instagram, users who try to share a post with an election label will see a message urging them to visit the voting information center.

Twitter

  • Twitter banned political ads, one of the strictest moves taken by a social media company.
  • Twitter may delete tweets that violate its policies, temporarily lock the accounts of offending users and suspend repeat offenders. Tweets that could violate the company's policies include messages that provide misleading information about voting, attempt to suppress or intimidate voters, provide false or misleading information about results, fail to fully or accurately disclose the identity of the tweeter.
  • The short-message social network may also add labels to tweets with misleading information, including those from politicians who declare victory prematurely. In addition, Twitter is labeling tweets that include manipulated media, state-affiliated media or content from politicians and government leaders that violates its rules, but leaves the tweets up because of public interest. 
  • Twitter is making users think twice before they share a tweet that contains disputed information by showing them a warning. The company is also encouraging users to add a comment to retweets. Like other companies, Twitter is trying to direct people to a page with trustworthy election information. 

Google

  • Google made changes to its popular search engine, blocking some suggestions its auto-complete function provides if a query is election-related. For example, if someone types the phrase "donate to," Google will block autocomplete suggestions that include the names of candidates or political parties. 
  • Google will temporarily ban political advertisements after the polls close to try to prevent ads falsely claiming victory.
  • YouTube will label election videos and search results with an information panel that warns, "Results may not be final." The panel will link to a feature on Google with real-time results from the Associated Press.
  • YouTube will show people information panels on mail-in voting when they watch videos that discuss the subject. (The ballot-casting method has become fraught with misinformation as Trump has tried to discredit the process, while providing no evidence of security flaws in the time-tested system.)
  • YouTube banned some videos pushing false conspiracies such as QAnon, pledging to remove content that "targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence." 
  • YouTube banned videos containing information that was obtained through hacking and could interfere with elections or censuses.

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CNET's Alfred Ng contributed to this report.

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Trump, Biden campaigns slam Facebook after ‘technical issues’ impact political ads – CNET

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Facebook is trying to curb the spread of misinformation ahead of Election Day.

Angela Lang/CNET

Campaign officials for President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are both taking aim at Facebook, accusing the world's largest social network of erroneously blocking their ads days before the Nov. 3 election.

Facebook stopped accepting new political ads on Oct. 27 as part of the company's effort to safeguard the integrity of the US election. However, ads approved before that deadline can still run through Nov. 3. 

Facebook said in a blog post on Thursday that "technical flaws" in the company's system caused some approved ads to be improperly paused after the new ad restrictions took effect. Advertisers also had trouble making changes to their ads. Some ads were blocked because advertisers made changes to the target audience shortly before the deadline.

The errors have sparked concerns from both campaigns that Facebook is enforcing its rules in a way that could benefit one political party over the other in the crucial days before the election. The problems highlight the challenges involved in enforcing the political ad ban, which was adopted to safeguard election integrity. Russian trolls have used Facebook to sow discord among Americans in the 2016 US presidential election.

"No ad was paused or rejected by a person, or because of any partisan consideration," Facebook said in the blog post. "The technical problems were automated and impacted ads from across the political spectrum and both presidential campaigns." The world's largest social network has said it will temporarily stop running all US social issue, electoral or political ads after the polls close on Nov. 3 to "reduce opportunities for confusion and abuse." 

By Friday, the Trump and Biden campaigns said they were still running into problems with Facebook ads.

Megan Clasen, an advisor for Biden, tweeted on Friday that thousands of pre-approved Facebook ads still weren't live on the social network.

Biden's campaign estimates it's lost more than $500,000 in projected donations from being unable to run fundraising ads on Facebook.

"It is currently unclear to us whether or not Facebook is giving Donald Trump an unfair electoral advantage in this particular instance, but it is abundantly clear that Facebook was wholly unprepared to handle this election despite having four years to prepare," said Rob Flaherty, the digital director for Biden's campaign, in a statement on Thursday.

Samantha Zager, a spokeswoman for the Trump's re-election campaign, said in a statement on Friday that banning new political ads limits their ability to talk about important issues such as economic growth and push back against Biden.

"The Silicon Valley mafia is now turning it up a notch, stopping us from running approved ads in the days before millions of Americans cast their ballots," Zater said. "This is not a coincidence -- Facebook is blocking our campaign ads that follow their own ridiculous rules, simply because they are working against President Trump. This not a bug, this is corporate election interference."

Facebook spokeswoman Elana Widmann said that the "vast majority" of ads that weren't supposed to be paused are now running. "We are working directly with both Presidential campaigns to work through some remaining ad delivery issues, which we expect to resolve for all advertisers," she said. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday during the company's earnings call that political and government ads were a "low single digit percentage" of Facebook's ad revenue in the third quarter.

Both campaigns have spent millions of dollars on Facebook ahead of Election Day.

Biden's Facebook page spent more than $95 million on ads about social issues, politics and elections from May 2018 to Oct. 28, 2020, according to Facebook's political ads database. Trump's Facebook page spent more than $108 million on these ads during the same time period.

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