Fact check: Twitter’s ‘read before you retweet’ warnings do not just target conservative articles

Some social media users have been accusing Twitter of stopping people sharing right-leaning articles about Black Lives Matter and Hunter Biden’s emails. As part of a trial, Twitter has been sending warning messages to some users when they try to retweet an article that it says they have not read themselves. Twitter says this applies to all such articles, not just ones from a particular publication or political position.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Twitter account @realDSteinberg posted a message reading: “This should disturb every American. @Twitter has placed a headline warning label on the @WSJ article about the inspiring @kimKBaltimore. The headline? ‘A Black Lives Matter Republican’. Twitter is censoring black women for not being Democrats. Fix. This. Now.” (here)

The House Judiciary Committee Republicans published posts on their official Facebook and Twitter accounts reading: “We tried to retweet Sean Hannity’s article about Jim Jordan confirming the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s emails. But Twitter slapped a warning label on the tweet before we could do it. Wow.” (  here  ,  here  ).

Both posts were widely shared. In both cases, they posted a screenshot of the Twitter message which says: “Headlines don’t tell the full story. You can read the article on Twitter before Retweeting.”

Twitter said (  here  ,  here  ) the messages are part of a trial scheme for people using its service on Android, and later iOS devices. “To help promote informed discussion, we're testing a new prompt on Android –– when you Retweet an article that you haven't opened on Twitter, we may ask if you'd like to open it first.”

Another message from Twitter’s Communication account says it is “doing this to encourage everyone to read news articles before Tweeting them, regardless of the publication or the article.” (here) Viewers can continue on and retweet without reading, if they want, with one more click.

Reuters Fact Check team has seen the Twitter warning applied to retweets of stories from news sources across the political spectrum.

A Twitter spokeswoman told Reuters “the prompt is shown on websites with articles, blog posts, and those that share other information of public relevance”. The spokeswoman did not go into further detail on how it selects those websites.

Reuters Fact Check team also noted that some news sources on Twitter (across the political spectrum) were not prompting the further reading function. Twitter communications told Reuters they are looking into this, and this check will be updated if they respond.

Tech news websites have reported on the twitter policy - see  here  ,  here and here  .


False. Twitter warning signs can appear when a user tries to retweet any article without having read it regardless of political leaning.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .