Donald Trump Michigan Absentee Ballot Applications Twitter Terms of Service

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Does Trump’s incorrect Michigan election tweet violate Twitter’s rules? (updated)

A lot of people think it did.

May 20, 2020, 4:01 pm*



Andrew Wyrich

President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted incorrect claims about Michigan’s plans to send absentee ballot applications to all of its registered voters ahead of the upcoming elections—prompting many people online to assert that his tweet violated Twitter’s election integrity terms of service.

Featured Video Hide

In the tweet, Trump erroneously said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was sending absentee ballots to all of its registered voters. The voters are actually being sent absentee ballot applications—a move that several other states have done during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advertisement Hide

The president continued, saying that it was done “illegally” and he would ask to “hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

Donald Trump Michigan Tweet Absentee Ballots

The president later deleted the tweet and replaced it with one that added “applications.”

Donald Trump Tweet Michigan Absentee Ballot Applications
Advertisement Hide

Besides not accurately stating what is occurring in Michigan in his initial tweet, several people pointed out that the tweet appeared to violate Twitter’s election integrity terms of service.

Twitter told the Daily Dot it did not take “enforcement action” against the president’s initial tweet.

Advertisement Hide
Advertisement Hide

Specifically, the tweet could violate Twitter’s rules for “manipulating or interfering in elections” or “sharing content that may suppress voter turnout” by inaccurately calling it illegal and threatening to withhold funding.

By calling it “illegal” and threatening to withhold funds, the tweet could also arguably violate Twitter’s rules against sharing “misleading information intended to intimidate or dissuade voters from participating in an election.”

Advertisement Hide

However, Twitter’s policy does allow a carve-out specifically for incorrect information, noting that “not all false or untrue information about politics or political events constitutes manipulation or interference in an election.” 

It’s unclear what mechanism the president was referring to for withholding funding.

In 2018, Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment that allowed citizens to request absentee ballots for no reason.

This post has been updated.


Advertisement Hide

Share this article
*First Published: May 20, 2020, 1:00 pm