President Donald Trump quickly took to social media shortly after midnight Wednesday to declare without evidence that "We are up BIG but they are trying to STEAL the election." The president also tweeted that votes could not be cast after the polls closed. Within minutes, Twitter and Facebook stepped in with warnings that the president's posts violated previously established policies.
Election officials across the country have made it clear for months that the final vote tallies would change as many states accounted for both mail-in and absentee ballots as well as those cast on Election Day. Ballots are still being counted in some of the key battleground states.
Around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, the @TwitterSafety account posted a notice that it had labeled the president's tweets as misleading under its civic integrity policy.
"Some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process," the notice said.
The restrictions prevent users from replying to or liking the president's labeled tweets, with a prompt stating "we have disabled most of the ways to engage with it." Users can still retweet the president's posts with comments but the content of the tweets will be hidden behind a label identifying it as misleading. Twitter had flagged four of the president's seven tweets from Wednesday morning.
Twitter also flagged a quote tweet by Trump highlighting a screenshot which mistakenly depicted a large jump in votes for Joe Biden in a Michigan county. Decision Desk HQ, a media outlet that shared election results online, had mistakenly entered that Biden would receive 153,710 votes in Shiawassee County but the correct tally was 15,371. Decision Desk HQ said it was a "clerical error" and updated the results with the correct data from officials. The man who tweeted the misleading screenshot later apologized and deleted it after noticing that it contained the numerical typo.
On Facebook, Trump's posts remain fully visible but are accompanied with various fact-check labels informing users about why the content is inaccurate or misleading. For example, underneath the president's post announcing "a big WIN," Facebook published a label saying votes were still being counted and no winner had been projected.
Under another post where the president questioned the inclusion of mail-in ballot "dumps," Facebook added a label stating, "As expected, election results will take longer this year. Millions of people across the US voted by mail and mail ballots take longer to count."
Facebook said "once President Trump began making premature claims of victory we started running notifications on Facebook and Instagram that votes are still being counted and a winner is not projected." The company added that it had also automatically applied labels to both candidates' posts with this information.