Misinformation & Disinformation

Report: Election misinformation began well before election day

A new report shows that right-wing efforts to throw the presidential election into doubt began months before the election and led directly to the insurrection.

The hashtag #StopTheSteal became a rallying cry of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. But the campaign to paint the election as fraudulent began before then, even before the election had even been held.

That’s one of the takeaways of a new report by the non-partisan Election Integrity Partnership. The report, released today, shows months of efforts by right-wing organizations to sow doubt about the eventual results of the November election.

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Michigan figures heavily into the report. Many (incorrect) allegations of voter fraud stemmed from supposed evidence posted to Twitter and other social media outlets. Those made such outrageous claims as dead people were voting and the use of Sharpie markers were invalidating the ballots of Republican voters.

One of the major problems with misinformation was the multi-platform effect of it. Even as platforms such as Twitter and Facebook cracked down on false posts, other platforms spread misinformation unhindered.

“The cross-platform nature of misinformation content and narrative spread limited the efficacy of any single platform’s response,” reads the report. “Smaller, niche, and hyperpartisan platforms … hosted and discussed content that had been moderated elsewhere. Parler in particular saw a remarkable increase in its active user base, as users rejected the ‘censorship’ they perceived on other platforms.”

The EIP suggests a number of methods for limiting misinformation going forward. That includes building on trusted channels for sharing election information through state and local governments.

The group also warns that the polarization of information has only gotten worse in the months since the 2020 election.

“Academia, platforms, civil society, and all levels of government must be committed, in their own ways, to truth in the service of a free and open society.”

You can read more here.

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