Biden campaign asks Twitter, Facebook to remove Trump posts bashing mail-in voting

(Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s political campaign has asked social media giants Facebook and Twitter to remove posts by Republican President Donald Trump on Monday that it said made false claims aimed at discrediting mail-in voting.

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Trump tweeted several times on Monday criticizing vote-by-mail plans that numerous states have implemented so that voters concerned about the coronavirus infection can submit their ballots from home.

“If people can go out and protest, riot, break into stores and create all sorts of havoc, they can also go out and VOTE - and keep our Election Honest,” Trump wrote. “With millions of mail-in ballots being sent out, who knows where they are going, and to whom?”

Trump, who himself has submitted absentee ballots through the mail, has for weeks stoked fears among his supporters that Democrats will abuse the vote-by-mail process in November’s election.

“Voter rolls are notorious for including people who no longer live at the address on file, or are even deceased,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in response to the Biden camp’s claim. “It is a wide open invitation for fraud and an undermining of election integrity.”

Biden’s campaign said that Trump was forcing people to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote.

“Today, he has unfurled tweet after tweet pushing baseless conspiracy theories meant to discredit vote-by-mail,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told Reuters in a statement.

“Our campaign has sent letters to Twitter and Facebook demanding that this disinformation, which seeks to undermine faith in our electoral process, gets taken down immediately.”

A Facebook representative said Trump’s message does not violate their policies and would not be removed. A Twitter spokesperson also said the posts did not violate its rules.

The social media companies are under pressure to try to police disinformation in political campaigns.

Trump told Politico in an interview published on Friday that expanded mail-in voting could cost him re-election.

In March, he told Fox News: “If you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York. Additional reporting by Katie Paul in San Francisco and Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England. Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Richard Pullin