Facebook has placed labels on content that includes misinformation about elections. The labels have been added to some of President Trump’s posts in which he made claims about the election that Facebook deemed to be false information. Unfortunately for Facebook (and its users), the labels did almost nothing to stop the spread of false information posted by President Trump.
BuzzFeed News reported that a Facebook employee asked last week whether Facebook had any data about the effectiveness of the labels. A data scientists revealed that the labels do very little to reduce the spread of false content.
The data scientist noted that adding the labels was not expected to reduce the spread of false content. Instead, they are used “to provide factual information in context to the post.” BuzzFeed News reported that the labels on President Trump’s posts (that contained false information) decreased reshares by about 8% and are among some of the posts that got the most engagement on the platform.
Why did that happen? The answer seems obvious, based on what BuzzFeed News reported. Facebook applied some labels to some of President Trump’s posts that contained misinformation about the election. It didn’t actually do anything to prevent users from liking or sharing those posts.
Twitter also applied labels to some of President Trump’s tweets that contained misinformation about elections. The addition of a label disables a user’s attempt to Retweet or Like those tweets. Users can Quote-Tweet them if they want to add their own commentary in regards to a specific labeled tweet.
On November 12, 2020, Twitter posted an update about their work regarding the 2020 U.S. Elections. In it, Twitter stated that they saw an estimated 29% decrease in Quote Tweets of the labeled tweets due in part to a prompt that warned people prior to sharing. In the same post, Twitter stated that they don’t believe that the Like button provides sufficient, thoughtful consideration prior to amplifying tweets.
I find it interesting that Twitter and Facebook appear to have entirely different ideas about what to do about election related content that is misinformation. Both applied labels, but Twitter took things a step further and disabled user’s ability to Like or Retweet those kinds of posts. Neither platform was 100% successful at stopping the spread of misinformation – but Twitter did a better job of it than Facebook.