A Facebook spokesperson said Wednesday that the social network was “reducing its distribution” until the story had been reviewed by the company’s fact checking partners. The spokesperson, Andy Stone, said this was “part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.” When Facebook reduces distribution, it doesn’t block a link from being shared, but it takes steps to make it less visible in users’ News Feeds to prevent misinformation from going viral.
This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review. https://t.co/vf3CBvLmjj
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
Several hours after the story was first published, Twitter took an even more aggressive step: it blocked the URL from being shared in tweets and direct messages. Previously-tweeted links now surface a warning that “this link may be unsafe.”
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the move. “In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter,” the spokesperson said, pointing to the company’s policy on hacked materials and guidelines for blocking specific URLs.
Both Facebook and Twitter have recently ramped up their policies on misinformation and election interference in an effort to prepare for presidential election.
Facebook said last month that it was “particularly focused on” the threat posed by “hack-and-leak operations,” which was a tactic used in 2016. The company has also recently cracked down on other types of viral misinformation and disinformation, including QAnon and militia movements, Holocaust denial and anti-vaccine advertising. Twitter has also updated several policies with an eye toward the days and weeks following the election, and has said it will limit retweets in some cases to prevent misinformation from spreading.