Chaotic Iowa Caucuses: Twitter's Part in Enabling the Spread of Election Disinformation
The Iowa Democratic caucuses just happened and they're creating quite a stir. An article published by the Washington Post stated that Twitter made the decision to allow some right-wing accounts to post disinformation on the social media site.
This includes tweets that point towards the results being "rigged."
No evidence of vote tampering
Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, jumped at the opportunity to tweet "Quality control = rigged?," further enforcing another of Trump's official campaigner's posts with the hashtag #RiggedElection. Both campaigners were insinuating vote tampering in the state of Iowa.
Quality control = rigged? 🤔 https://t.co/rJY3gdRccE— Brad Parscale - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@parscale) February 4, 2020
However, no evidence has suggested any vote tampering occurred, making the Trump campaigners' posts baseless.
The real issue was a technical mishap with an app used by election officials, causing delays in the counting of votes.
This leaves Twitter in a strange space as it appears the social media platform is giving political fraudsters a stage from which to shout their thoughts. Furthermore, it gives the message that Twitter is an acceptable zone for sharing deceitful messages.
Right-wing activist group, the Judicial Watch, shared a report that falsely claimed that Iowa's registered number of voters was higher than the actual number of voting-age residents in each county.
Earlier on Monday, the leader of the college-focused conservative group Turning Point USA, tweeted that Iowa election officials were taking part in "voter fraud," using the Judicial Watch's debunked report.
On the right –> tweets by Sean Hannity and Charlie Kirk spreading false information about Iowa voter rolls.— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) February 3, 2020
On the left -> a tweet by the Iowa Secretary of State correcting the disinformation
Disinformation travels farther, faster. Visualization via Hoaxy pic.twitter.com/X1rljxwn7t
As Paul D. Pate, the Republican secretary of state for Iowa stated that "It’s unfortunate this organization continues to put out inaccurate data regarding voter registration, and it’s especially disconcerting they chose the day of the Iowa Caucus to do this."
What is Twitter doing about this?
Brandon Borrman, a Twitter spokesperson, told the Washington Post that the company was not going to act against users looking to create and build mistrust in the official election results.
Borrman stated "The tweet is not in violation of our election integrity policy as it does not suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when, where, or how to vote," when referring to tweets posted by prominent conservatives who claimed the Democratic caucuses were "rigged."