Accuracy in Media

Compared to the media’s backlash against Facebook’s election advertisement policy news, Twitter received scant attention from the mainstream media when it announced it will verify primary challengers in the upcoming 2020 election cycle as a part of its Election Labels program.

Previously, Twitter would only verify established candidates and not primary challengers. Twitter reversed that policy this week and issued a statement, which in part read, “[W]e’ll start identifying candidates who qualify for the primary ballot for US House, US Senate, and Gubernatorial races with a verified badge.”

Election Labels, as Twitter explained, was launched ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. They provide “information about political candidates, like the office they are running for, their state and district number, and contain a small ballot box icon.”

Twitter’s announcement was met with a tepid response from the mainstream media. The Hill published the news in one of its newsletters, while the Washington Post and Politico dedicated articles to the announcement. But other than those three mentions, Twitter’s announcement flew under the radar of the mainstream media. The likes of Fox News, ABC News, CNN, and CBS News did not publish a single article or mention of the announcement, which was puzzling because of its potential impact on the 2020 election.

After focusing much attention to social media giants like Facebook, it was difficult to determine why the media mostly ignored Twitter’s announcement. After all, Twitter said that its Election Labels increased visibility of candidates who were verified leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. Therefore, it could be said that this announcement would be big news for American voters searching for and researching candidates in the 2020 election. But other than the three articles and news mentions listed above, the mainstream media chose not to publicize the news.

As American voters begin their research ahead of the 2020 election, the media should provide fair and impartial news (such as Twitter’s announcement) to help the voter find as much information sources as possible to make a decision. Instead, the media let the announcement float under the radar, did not meet the needs of American voters, and by doing so, is not holding technology companies like Twitter accountable.

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