Social media enjoys some success in countering misinformation in lead up to election…but now what?

Faulty content doubled during the presidential campaign from January to November of 2016 but the upsurge expected in September and October before the midterm election did not materialize according to a University of Michigan study. Researchers think it most likely that Facebook and Twitter have been more successful in removing fake accounts and monitoring fake news. The researchers tempered their praise for the two platforms, ” In the 2018 cycle, Facebook has performed somewhat better, but Twitter needs to up its game. Facebook, I salute you. For now. But we’ll keep watching, and you can, too.” (NiemanLab, November 5, 2018, by Paul Resnick)

Facebook is doing better than Twitter limiting users encounters with fake news. And an Oxford research team found junk news proliferating on Twitter. “The team defined junk news as sources that published deceptive or incorrect information, often in an ideological or conspiratorial way, while failing to meet criteria such as professionalism, bias, credibility and style.” (The Philadelphia Tribune, November 6, 2018, by Barbara Ortutay)

While the election months have been relatively free of misinformation, it skyrocketed on election day, November 6, with an emphasis on misleading voters about the election date. Russians trying to influence the election had shifted from blatant lies to extremely biased and partisan content. (McClatchy News, November 6, 2018, by Tim Johnson)

Kevin Rose, The New York Times, November 5, 2018, finds six types of false news surfacing on election day: polling place hoaxes; remote voting options; suspicious texts (misinforming voters about such matters as the legitimacy of their votes and changes in voting hours, locations and voter IDs requirements); voting machine malfunction rumors; misleading photos and videos (say of huge lines at the polls); and false voter fraud allegations.

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