Twitter has gone one step further in its efforts to dispel election misinformation, especially the nonsense spouted by one of the most powerful people in the world, President Donald Trump. In fact, its latest initiative may be a particularly painful whack at Trump since it does something that even he hasn’t been able to do: recognise that he lost the election.
On Saturday, Variety noticed that Twitter had changed some of the labels on Trump’s tweets (let us recall that there is rarely a presidential tweet without a label nowadays). Now it appears that whenever Trump lies and says that he won the election, which is not true, Twitter will helpfully name the real winner instead.
“Election officials have certified Joe Biden as the winner of the U.S. presidential election,” the label reads, and includes a helpful link to press coverage proving as much.
Oh yeah, burn.
In a statement to Gizmodo on Saturday, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the change and attributed it to the recent certification of results. On Monday, the Electoral College cast its votes for president, formalising President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 win over Trump. Biden only needed 270 to claim the victory.
“Following certification of the results of the 2020 US Presidential Election, we’ve updated our label to reflect the latest information,” the spokesperson said.
Ironically, at the moment the president’s favourite social media platform is making more concessions than Trump himself, who has refused to concede the election. At times, he has sort of conceded in his Trumpy way, but he’s usually followed up with statements like “I concede NOTHING!” or lawsuits claiming imaginary election fraud. To date, there has not been an official concession from the president.
But Twitter doesn’t seem to care though and is slowly making room for the new president on its platform. Besides the new labels, Twitter is also preparing to hand over the @POTUS Twitter handle, as well as about a dozen other White House institutional accounts, to the Biden administration on Jan. 20.
“Twitter is actively preparing to support the transition of White House institutional Twitter accounts on January 20th, 2021. As we did for the presidential transition in 2017, this process is being done in close consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration,” the company told Gizmodo in November.
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That’s not to say Twitter has been perfect in its handling of Trump’s loss and his misleading and incredulous tweets referencing the election. Last week, the company said it had accidentally limited engagement — thereby preventing users from liking, retweeting or replying — of a tweet in which Trump claimed that he had won the election by a landslide. (Spoiler: He did not).
As we’ve noted before, Twitter is probably just counting down the days until it can strip Trump of his special “public interest” protections, which allow him to routinely break the company’s rules without facing meaningful consequences. Those go away on Jan. 20, although Trump probably won’t.