A Facebook search for the words “election fraud” first turned up an article claiming that workers at a children’s museum in Pennsylvania were brainwashing children into accepting stolen elections. .
Facebook’s Second suggestion? A link to an article from a website called MAGA Underground says that Democrats are plotting to do midterm tests next month. “You should still be mad about the scam happening in 2020,” the article emphasized.
With less than three weeks to go before polls close, misinformation about voting and elections is rampant on social media despite tech companies’ promises to tackle a perceived problem. causes increased polarization and distrust.
While platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube says it has expanded its work to detect and prevent harmful statements that could block a vote or even lead to violent confrontations, a review of several sites found they still is catching up with 2020, when it’s President. Donald Trump lies about the election he lost to Joe Biden helped fuel an uprising on the US Capitol.
Heidi Beirich, founder of the Global Project Against Hatred and Extremism and a member of a group called Real Facebook Oversight Board, criticized the platform’s efforts, saying: “You can think they will learn by now. “This is not their first election. This should have been resolved before Trump died in 2020. The damage is pretty deep at this point.”
If these US-based tech giants can’t prepare well for US elections, how can anyone expect them to handle elections abroad, Beirich said.
Mentions of “stolen elections” and “voter fraud” have skyrocketed in recent months and are now two of the three most common terms thrown into discussions about this year’s election. Now, according to an analysis of social media, online and broadcast content by media intelligence firm Zignal Labs on behalf of the Associated Press.
On Twitter, Zignal’s analysis shows that tweets that amplify conspiracy theories about the upcoming election have been retweeted thousands of times, along with posts that reassert debunked claims about the election. election 2020.
Most of the major platforms have announced steps to curb voting and election misinformation, including labels, warnings, and changes to certain content auto-suggestion systems. Users who repeatedly violate the rules may be suspended. The platforms have also created partnerships with fact-checking organizations and news outlets like AP, as part of Meta’s authenticity verification program.
“Our teams continue to closely monitor midterms, working to quickly remove content that violates our policies,” YouTube said in a statement. “We will remain vigilant before, during and after Election Day.”
Metaowner of Facebook and Instagram, announced this week that it was reopening its election command center, which monitors real-time efforts to combat election misinformation. The company has dismissed criticism that it is not doing enough and dismissed reports that it has cut staff to focus on elections.
“We are investing a significant amount of resources, with work spanning more than 40 teams and hundreds of people,” Meta said in an emailed statement to the AP.
The platform also said that starting this week, anyone who searches on Facebook using election-related keywords, including “election fraud,” will automatically see a pop-up with links to trusted polling sources.
TikTok established a vote center earlier this year to help voters in the United States learn how to register to vote and who is on their ballot. Information is provided in English, Spanish and more than 45 other languages. The platform, currently the leading source of information for young voters, also adds labels for misleading content.
“Providing access to authoritative information is an important part of our overall strategy to combat election misinformation,” the company said of its efforts to prepare for midterm exams.
But policies aimed at preventing harmful election misinformation have not always been consistently enforced. For example, false statements can often be buried deep in the comments section, where they can still leave an impression on other users.
A report published last month from New York University singled out Meta, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for amplifying false claims by Trump about the 2020 election. Inconsistencies related to miscommunication as well as poor implementation.
Concerned about the amount of misinformation about voting and elections, some groups have called on tech companies to do more.
“Americans deserve more than lip service and half-measures from the platforms,” said Yosef Getachew, director of communications and democracy programs for Common Cause. “These platforms have been weaponized by the enemies of democracy, both foreign and domestic.”
Election disinformation is even more prevalent on smaller platforms, popular with some conservatives and far-right groups like Gab, Gettr and TruthSocial, Trump’s own platform. But these sites have a very small audience compared to Facebook, YouTube or TikTok.
Beirich’s team, the Real Facebook Oversight Board, created a list of seven recommendations for Meta to reduce the spread of misinformation ahead of the election. They include changes to the platform that will promote content from legitimate news outlets on partisan websites that often spread misinformation, as well as greater attention to targeted misinformation. address voters in Spanish and other languages.
Meta told the AP it has been expanding its authenticity verification network since 2020 and now has twice as many Spanish-language credential-checkers. The company also launched a line of authenticity verification tips in Spanish on WhatsApp, another platform it owns.
Much of the misinformation aimed at non-English speakers appears to be aimed at suppressing their vote, said Brenda Victoria Castillo, CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. given by misinformation.
“We are being deceived and discouraged from exercising our right to vote,” Castillo said. “And the people in power, people like (Meta CEO) Mark Zuckerberg are doing very little while they profit from misinformation. “