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Facebook labels Trump, Biden posts on voting

The labels are separate from Facebook “newsworthiness” tags the company said it would apply when politicians violate its policies.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Facebook added a voting information label to several of President Trump’s posts early this week, and applied the same label to one of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s on Tuesday.

“Mail-In Voting, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History! #RIGGEDELECTION,” Trump posted early Tuesday morning.

The Facebook label below says “Get official voting info on how to vote” and links to the federal government’s official website about absentee voting, including voting by mail.

Facebook said last month that it would start to label all posts — from any user — about voting with a prompt to check out its own voting information page. But while Facebook creates that page, it is adding labels to posts from federal candidates and elected officials that point to the official government site, the company’s vice president of integrity said last week.

The voting information labels are separate from the “newsworthiness” labels Facebook said it would add to politician’s posts that violate the company’s policies but that Facebook determines are newsworthy enough to leave online.

Bowing to pressure, Facebook will start labeling violating posts from politicians. But critics say it’s not enough.

Facebook reached that decision only following harsh criticism from civil rights advocates and others after the company refused to label or remove several of Trump’s posts that some said incited violence or fueled hate. Twitter started adding labels to Trump’s tweets in May, strengthening calls for Facebook to do the same.

Facebook eventually said it will remove posts that incite violence or suppress voting, even from public figures. In other policy-violating instances, the company said it might leave the posts from politicians online but with labels.

Zuckerberg once wanted to sanction Trump. Then Facebook wrote rules that accommodated him.

Facebook also added voting information labels to a few of Trump’s posts from Sunday and Monday, including one that included a campaign video ad and a repost of an announcement from his campaign’s page.

Biden’s post asking for campaign donations got the label Tuesday, this time pointing to the government’s official voting home page.

Biden spokesman Bill Russo retweeted a tweet about the label on Trump’s mail-in post, writing “What an absolute, abject failure.” He mocked the company’s decision in another tweet, suggesting that Trump and Biden’s posts were too different to receive the same label.

Roger McNamee, author of “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe,” called Facebook’s labeling of Trump’s post “irresponsible.”

“Rather than call out the falsehood, the label is worded so that some will read it as an endorsement of a false statement,” he tweeted.

Trump’s campaign defended his post.

“The President was absolutely correct," Trump campaign spokesperson Samantha Zager said. "Universal vote by mail is ripe for fraud and would lead to a corrupt election. The same label has been applied to posts on Joe Biden’s page.”

Twitter first slapped two fact-check labels on Trump’s tweets in May when he tweeted that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

But Twitter determined that Trump’s tweet today about mail-in voter fraud, which was identical to the post Facebook labeled, didn’t break its rules, according to spokesman Trenton Kennedy. The decision reflects how Twitter won’t take action against “broad, non-specific statements” that could mislead people about elections.

Twitter labels Trump’s tweets with a fact check for the first time

Cat Zakrzewski contributed to this report.