Twitter Temporarily Changes How Users Retweet Ahead of US Presidential Election

October 21, 2020 Updated: October 21, 2020

Ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election, Twitter has made a series of temporary changes to its “tweet” and “retweet” functions, as the social media platform seeks to “reduce the visibility of misleading information.”

The company says it’s the “latest in our comprehensive effort to apply the lessons of 2016.”

Twitter stated in a blog post that as of Oct. 20, “People who go to Retweet will be brought to the Quote Tweet composer, where they’ll be encouraged to comment before sending their Tweet.”

The tech giant said it aims to discourage Twitter users from retweeting posts without adding their own commentary. Users who wish to retweet a post will instead be prompted to share a quote tweet to share their thoughts instead. Additional warnings and restrictions will be placed on tweets that have been labeled as having misleading information.

The changes are expected to last through at least the end of election week, Twitter stated.

A Twitter app icon on a cell phone in a file photo. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Users of the platform, including candidates, will be prohibited from prematurely claiming victory in the U.S. election. Any Twitter posts that do will have a warning label added, the company said.

Tweets that the company believes incite interference with election results also will be removed.

“Under this policy, we will label Tweets that falsely claim a win for any candidate and will remove Tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with election results or the smooth operation of polling places,” Twitter stated.

Twitter users, including candidates, will only be able to claim a result following an official announcement from state election officials, or after a projection from two “authoritative,” independent national news outlets.

The changes come as the platform faces intense scrutiny following the recent censorship by Twitter and Facebook of exposés by The New York Post that assert that Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, took part in multiple schemes to profit off his father’s political influence while he was vice president.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced on Oct. 19 that the committee would consider subpoenas for the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook over the matter.

Lindsey Graham
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks in Washington on Oct. 14, 2020. (Susan Walsh/Pool/AP Photo)

Twitter has refused to unlock the NY Post’s account unless the newspaper deletes tweets of reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails, according to several of the paper’s editors.

Twitter said the newspaper’s articles violated the social media website’s hacked materials policy. The NY Post disputed the company’s assertions, saying, “Information in the reports came from data extracted from a MacBook Pro laptop that a Delaware repair shop owner has said was dropped off in April 2019 but never picked up.”

The NY Post’s articles cited emails from the laptop, which the newspaper said belonged to Hunter Biden. When the owner of the laptop didn’t return for the device, the shop owner took possession of it and turned it over to the FBI, and several months later, gave a copy of the hard drive to the lawyer of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is President Donald Trump’s personal attorney. Giuliani provided a copy of the hard drive data to the NY Post.

Biden’s campaign and Biden have called the allegations a “smear campaign” in remarks delivered over the weekend.

The NY Post’s Sohrab Ahmari wrote on Oct. 18 on Twitter, “It’s now been four days since The Post dropped the first Hunter Files story, and neither Joe nor Hunter has disputed a single material fact.

“The easiest thing they could do is to say, ‘That laptop isn’t ours, Hunter didn’t send/receive those e-mails.’ Yet, they haven’t done that.”

As of Oct. 21, the Twitter account showed that the NY Post’s last tweet was on Oct. 14.

Ivan Pentchoukov and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.