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Goodbye Trump and the Uncivil War

Goodbye Trump and Uncivil War

It takes some harsh reality and some disabling of key players for the misinformation to stop. And we all take part in the uncivil war when we repost and forward messages that contain lies.

As President Biden mentioned today at the inauguration, we have been engaged in an uncivil war. Part of that is the misuse and abuse of information and platforms where opinion is treated as fact. And the use of unsubstantiated conclusions treated as truth. But misinformation does not occur in a vacuum. Case in point is the last four years.

Kate Starbird, a disinformation researcher at the University of Washington, points to the pandemic as one example of this battle. See her recent research post where she says that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned an infodemic, a vast and complicated mix of information, misinformation and disinformation. Disinformation campaigns are murky blends of truth, lies and sincere beliefs.”

Today’s social media platforms that are used by millions as their only source of news have been abused. If we have spokespersons, of sorts, known either from their media platforms, celebrity status or powerful positions, that speak out and lie, people still listen. Whether their words are true or not, their platforms do engender many followers and loyalists, who themselves speak out and gather in more followers.

Following the block of Mr. Trump from his Twitter and Facebook accounts, immediately the volume of news about the “fake” election dropped. The misinformation about the U.S. election dropped by as much 73 percent from the week before. This is no minor number. Election fraud postings plunged from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social media platforms.

Zignal Labs reported on some of these numbers and also cited the fact that QAnon was dropped from their media platforms also. Suddenly the lies had lost another major megaphone.

Also, with the reality of the attack on the Capitol Building setting in, people were frightened by the images and realized it was no longer just fighting words but actions underway against the government. People stopped using the hashtags they had used before to fan the flames.

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