Twitter flagged a tweet from President Donald Trump Sunday for suggesting people could get coronavirus from mail boxes, but the platform has not yet fact-checked tweets from users who circulated debunked claims he is tampering with mail boxes to suppress votes.
The company noted in a tweet explaining the move that Trump’s comment, which also warned that people could use mail boxes to vote multiple times, violated “our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.” Twitter flagged a different Trump tweet in May for a similar offense.
“Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times,” Trump tweeted Sunday, referring to mailboxes. “Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!”
So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster. Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not Covid sanitized. A big fraud!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2020
Coronavirus can be spread via surfaces, but it is more often spread through person-to-person contact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (RELATED: Viral Misinformation About Mailbox Removals Does Not Violate Twitter Policies, Won’t Be Fact-Checked Company Says)
Some anti-Trump critics have suggested on Twitter that his administration is tampering with mailboxes to suppress mail-in ballots ahead of the election.
Twitter declined to flag them, with a spokesman telling the Daily Caller News Foundation Aug. 20 that the tweets are “currently not in violation of the Twitter Rules and will not be labeled.”
Walter Shaub, who was 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 mailboxes stacked up at a facility in Wisconsin.
Actress Alyssa Milano and Daniel Goldman, the lead investigator for the Democrats’ impeachment of Trump, are among several celebrities and Democrats who suggested the image is evidence that Trump is suppressing votes.
“What possible cost-cutting measure does removing existing mailboxes and mail sorters support? None, of course,” Goldman wrote in an Aug. 15 tweet. “This is the most anti-democratic thing he has done.” 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 images depict Hartford Finishing Inc., a powder finishing company in Wisconsin. He 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 and refurbish mailboxes. USA Today’s fact check included a picture taken in 2019 showing stacks of mailboxes at Hartford that are larger than the one in the viral image.
Twitter 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.
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