Social Media Election Fears

By Collin Clark

Social Media has created a stir of misinformation that has been spread around the internet, instilling certain fears for American voters.

More people than ever before are ingesting and sharing news via social media. Because Social Media has a “social aspect”, people are more likely to believe the news that is shared from a friend or family member because this information is coming from an individual that they trust.

“The credibility given to this news is disturbingly higher because of how it has been consumed, but the quality is considerably lower”, says Doug Harris, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University.

Legitimate U.S. social media accounts are sharing false claims of voter fraud, misleading photos of ballots being dumped in the trash and striking fears of violence at the polls on Election Day, according to new research from the Election Integrity Partnership, a group of some of the world’s top misinformation researchers.

A tweet with photos, made by a conservative media personality in late September, claiming more than 1000 mail-in ballots were found in a dumpster in California. This tweet led to a popular far right news source developing a story for media consumers, leading to President Trump’s son retweeting this to his 5.7 million followers. A plea to spread false information and instill fear in voters considering the mail-in ballot alternative. “This narrative that you’re not going to be able to trust the election results is really problematic,” says Kate Starbird, a crisis informatics researcher at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public.

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