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Misinformation on Twitter: Unchecked Claims of a Stolen Election Despite Musk's Assurance

Misinformation on Twitter: Unchecked Claims of a Stolen Election Despite Musk's Assurance

Misinformation on Twitter


In a today interview, Twitter CEO Elon Musk stated that people who make false claims about stolen elections "will be corrected" on the network.

When asked for more assurance by a CNBC reporter, Musk said, "Oh yeah, 100%."

Yet other such allegations have proliferated on Twitter in the week following the former president's use of a CNN town hall to elaborate on his erroneous assertion that the 2020 election was "rigged" against him.  An analysis of Twitter tweets reveals that those that propagated such bogus claims received thousands of shares with no obvious discipline.

The disparity between Musk's vow and the extent to which the accusations are propagated on Twitter highlights a fundamental issue for social media firms striving to call out electoral conspiracy Trump and his supporters push conspiracy theories and falsehoods. This will only intensify as the country arranges for a presidential election next year, with Trump publicizing for the Republican nomination once more.

It's unclear if Musk and his recently picked CEO, Linda Yaccarino, intend to make adaptation to Twitter to combat disinformation, which election experts and digital accountability activists believe puts election officers at risk and erodes faith in democracy.


"Talk is cheap," said David Becker, a former Justice Department lawyer who now directs the non-profit Center for Election Innovation and Research. But first, we must see this action adept, as it is happening right now. "I'm hoping he realizes how important proper Twitter behavior is," I said.

A study supervised for The Associated Press by media intelligence firm Zignal Labs revealed the ten most considerably shared tweets pushing a "rigged election" narrative in the five days after Trump's town hall. While Twitter has a system in place for users to offer context to incorrect tweets, none of the 10 messages that received over 43,000 retweets had such notes attached. The most considerably circulated tweets were bogus statements made by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Kari Lake, a democratic who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Arizona last year.

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Twitter's policy on civic integrity and misleading information states that it "may" label or remove "unverified information about election rigging," but the 10 tweets and dozens of others in recent days claiming a "stolen" or "rigged" election in 2020 or 2022 continue live and unlabeled on the platform as of Thursday, according to an AP search.

Twitter acknowledged to CNN in January 2022, months before Musk took over the company that October, that it had stopped taking action against 2020 election disinformation, stating that its policy was seeming to be used during an election cycle, not long after one.

False assertions that the 2020 election was illegal to have achieved strength on the platform and throughout social media since then, spurred by Trump, whose recent media appearances reveal he is making them a central talking point of his GOP nomination campaign.

Tech accountability proponents say it's tough to regulate material on a massive scale like Twitter, and they point out that Twitter isn't the only medium where election disinformation circulates. Falsehoods are also propagated via TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

However, since taking charge, Musk has repaired well-known election deniers, altered Twitter's authentication mechanism, and dismantled most of the people answerable for post-moderation. Falsehoods have flourished as a result of these decisions, according to Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of Accountable Tech, a nonprofit monitoring group.

"I believe they already had insufficient resources... "But there's no doubt that he's exacerbating the situation," Lehrich remarked."And he's efficiently fired everyone at Twitter who is indebted for trust and safety, so they couldn't enforce their own civic integrity policies even if they tried."

When the AP requested comment, Twitter delivered a mechanical answer, as it does with most media questions, and did not respond to the continuous propagation of election falsehoods.

According to Anjana Susarla, a social media researcher and professor at Michigan State University, in an ideal world, platforms would help reduce the spread of false claims online by policies Blocking known disinformation sources, identifying it, implementing community enforcement norms, and deprioritizing misinformation in hot topics are some examples.

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Musk's personal usage of Twitter complicates Twitter's answer to the disinformation. He has utilized Twitter to spread election-related conspiracy theories.

He replied to a bogus assertion last week that a meeting organized by the Center for Election Innovation and Research was "secret" and "HYPER PARTISAN."

Musk described the assembly as "far left" and said it was surprising that officials from "pivotal regions" would attend in a tweet sent to his roughly 140 million followers. The conference, in fact, had its own public website with links to its agenda, a roster of speakers that included Republicans and Democrats, and a live stream that permitted anybody interested to watch the proceedings.

Musk's comments prompted other Twitter users to view the original remark and add on with allegations of stolen elections.


"He gets it... "He knows the elections were massively rigged," one Twitter user said.

“Exactly. "They're planning the theft for 2024," wrote another.

According to Becker, the center's executive director, when popular Twitter users spread incorrect information about election officials, "threats to their safety, offices, and staff increase."

He asserts that "that makes democracy more vulnerable and puts stress on them as people."

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