Elections

Viral Misinformation About Mailbox Removals Does Not Violate Twitter Policies, Won’t Be Fact-Checked Company Says

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Tweets theorizing that officials are removing mailboxes to prevent people from casting mail-in ballots ahead of November do not violate Twitter’s policies against election-year misinformation, a Twitter spokesman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Critics of President Donald Trump are suggesting on Twitter that his administration is tampering with mailboxes to suppress mail-in votes ahead of the election. Tweets floating this possibility “are currently not in violation of the Twitter Rules and will not be labeled,” the spokesman said.

Tweets suggesting officials are removing boxes have collected over 25,000 and 82,000 retweets respectively, the National Review noted in a report Wednesday. Walter Shaub — head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics under former President Barack Obama — wrote in an Aug. 15 tweet that “this is what a coup looks like.”

Shaub quote-tweeted a user who posted a tweet showing dozens of mailboxes stacked up at a storage facility in Wisconsin. (RELATED: Twitter Fact-Checks Trump For The First Time After He Claims Mail-In Ballots Will Be ‘Fraudulent’)

Such tweets went viral after Trump suggested in a Fox News interview last week that he wanted to withhold funding from the USPS so that it couldn’t be used for mail-in voting.

Twitter previously fact-checked a tweet Trump published in May in which he argued that California’s mail-in ballots will be “substantially fraudulent.”

Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots,” Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough told The Washington Post in May, regarding the decision.

Actress Alyssa Milano and Daniel Goldman, the lead investigator for the Democrats’ impeachment of Trump, are among several celebrities and high-profile Democrats who suggested the image is evidence that Trump is suppressing votes. The image of stacked boxes is not what it appears, according to photojournalist Gary He.

He noted in an Aug. 17 Twitter thread that the circulated image of the boxes are from Hartford Finishing Inc., a powder finishing company in Wisconsin.  The journalist reported in the tweet that someone at Hartford Finishing told him that the company handled contracts for USPS for years.

A USA Today fact-check published Aug. 17 determined the tweets were false, noting that Hartford Finishing has a contract to collect mailboxes.

Rex Chapman, who played for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, posted an Aug. 17 tweet claiming mailboxes in Burbank, California are being locked for nefarious purposes.

USPS apparently have for years locked mail boxes. Collection boxes in the San Fernando Valley were at times fixed with locks due to a growing number of thefts, the Los Angeles Daily News reported in April 2016.

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