Facebook reportedly prepping in case Trump tries to delegitimize election


President Trump is already casting doubt on whether the election will be “rigged.”

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This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

President Donald Trump’s been ramping up his criticism of the 2020 election over the past couple weeks, saying that the only way he’ll lose is if it’s “rigged,” and that voting by mail is unreliable, despite the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Twitter are coming up with plans for how to handle efforts to undermine the results, according to a new report.

Facebook in particular has begun working on contingency plans if Trump questions the election’s legitimacy, The New York Times reported Friday. “Facebook is preparing steps to take should Mr. Trump wrongly claim on the site that he won another four-year term,” the Times reported, citing unnamed sources. “Facebook is also working through how it might act if Mr. Trump tries to invalidate the results by declaring that the Postal Service lost mail-in ballots or that other groups meddled with the vote, the people said.”

Google and Twitter confirmed to the Times that they too are preparing for election day issues, but didn’t elaborate. Facebook, Twitter and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The White House also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, though it told the Times that Trump is working to ensure election security and integrity.

The reported moves come amid rising tensions between the White House and its critics. Since his win in 2016, Trump has questioned the legitimacy of election results, alleging without evidence that millions of fraudulent votes for his opponent. Now, with the election a little more than two months away, Trump is attacking mail-in votes, again without evidence, and despite the fact that he himself votes that way.

Trump’s critics, including his predecessor President Barack Obama, say the president is attempting to sew discord and confusion ahead of the election. “This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Obama said in a speech on Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.”

Trump’s argued, without evidence, that it’s his opponents who are attempting to sabotage the election.

Facebook, Google and Twitter’s preparations also come as the three companies increasingly take action against extremism on their respective platforms, particularly when it comes from Trump. Each now attaches a link to any voting-related posts to information centers on voting that they’ve established, debunking myths and providing details. Twitter and Facebook have also increasingly censored some of Trump’s more inflammatory rhetoric. Trump’s responded that social media companies need to be more stringently regulated to fight back against what he believes is censorship.

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