Twitter on Wednesday introduced election labels for candidates running in the 2018 midterm general election. The new label, which contains a small icon of a government building, will appear on the profile page of the candidate as well as each tweet they send — including retweets by the account and embedded tweets on websites across the internet — for people running for US Senate, state governor, or US House of Representatives.
With the help of the nonprofit Ballotpedia, Twitter said it will verify whether the candidates are officially on the election ballot. The first labels will appear after May 30, one week from today, the company said, and will continue to roll out as more candidates enter the race.
As the general election nears, more scrutiny is being directed at the internet’s biggest companies and their ability to live up to their promises of fixing the serious problems of misinformation, fake news, dark ads, and bots running rampant on their platforms.
Adding labels is a quick and simple way to address a longtime issue for Twitter. In 2016, BuzzFeed News reported on @RepStevenSmith, allegedly a Republican Representative of Georgia’s 15th Congressional District whose account attracted 20,000 followers and plenty of engagement. The problem: Georgia doesn’t have a 15th District and there is no member of Congress named Steven Smith.
As reporter Molly Taft wrote: “For the past three years, Rep. Smith has fooled some of the most prominent journalists and pundits in America into believing that he’s a real congressman, using a combination of guerrilla troll tactics, a…