Information on social networks spreads very quickly. Therefore, it is important to combat false information to avoid causing unrest and chaos.
For many people, the US election is not just about choosing the next president but also a test of the level of careful information processing by online platforms.
Just one rumor of election results circulating on social media can cause serious unrest. This will be a difficult challenge for social networking sites.
Some platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to prevent misinformation. However, Wall Street Journal reporter Joanna Stern still advises people to take a break from using social media for a few days.
“There are countless ways the Internet can make elections worse, and only a very small percentage of things go in a positive direction,” says Joanna.
Social networks need to maintain the authenticity of information
Social media generally has billions of accounts including casual users and celebrities. Therefore, it is not easy to keep the correctness of the information.
Two important tasks that social media have to do during the election phase are: Managing influential accounts that violate the rules and spread the right information faster than false rumors.
Currently, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are posting on their pages notes that election results are still being tallied. YouTube provides validation checks and quotes from authorized personnel.
Facebook and Google will temporarily ban post-election political advertising to prevent misinformation.
On November 2, Facebook and Twitter labeled a misleading tweet by President Trump, critical of the Supreme Court’s decision to vote by mail.
Despite the positive actions, the warning content of social networking sites remains general. Twitter, for example, only noted that the experts “may not have announced the winner”, instead of pointing out the specific error of the rumor.
Some recent studies show that misinformation is often spread by social media, politicians, and influencers.
For example, President Trump often reposts supportive conspiracy statements on his Twitter account.
On the night of the results, multiple accounts will post false or rule-breaking claims. The question is whether social media sites actually check and delete this information, no matter how powerful their owners are.
Users need to be selective about information
Social media spreads information faster than mainstream newspapers. Information from these sites is often uncensored and misleading.
This requires users to be very careful with what they are sharing. Consider whether the tweet was posted by a trusted account. Are the images or videos new information, or reposted from old content? Do the comments in the post contradict each other?
In fact, Facebook and Twitter are not the only ways to interact online. Platforms like Twitch, Zoom, Slack, and Discord are all sites where you can share your information and thoughts regarding the election.
In addition, readers can find and read traditional newspapers or online newspapers, which provide quality information sources, which are carefully censored and curated.