The 2020 presidential election has been a tense wait as candidates Joe Biden and President Donald Trump wait for votes to be counted to see who will obtain the presidency. As in every election, there is plenty of misinformation being thrown about, with many news outlets having their own fact checking sections in order to try and combat the stream of false information. Unfortunately, much of this misleading or false information is coming from the 45th President himself, Donald Trump. Ironically, the man often attributed to popularizing the term ‘fake news’ has gained a reputation for making false claims.
Donald Trump’s often outspoken presence on Twitter and in person has often resulted in the delivery and spread of false, misguided or misleading claims. Often outlets have had to fact check his statements on and offline as many have proven misleading on various topics. The election has been no different and led to social media platforms such as Twitter placing up warnings over his Tweets. These warnings completely cover the post, reading: ‘Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,’ viewers then will need to click to ‘view’ the presidents Tweet after seeing this disclaimer.
Some of the President’s Tweets which have been hidden on account of disputed information include:
‘All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud. Plenty of proof – just check out the Media. WE WILL WIN! America First!’ (4.22 PM, Nov 5 2020)
‘Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!’ (3:04 PM, Nov 4 2020)
‘We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead. Additionally, we hereby claim the State of Michigan if, in fact,….. ‘…..there was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported!’ (9:56 PM Nov 4, 2020)
Trump has indeed claimed that he will be legally challenging some of the counts, however, his claims of fraud has been widely disputed from fact-checkers. Further, as Reuters summarised: ‘The false and unfounded claims evolved over the course of the day. Initially, Trump said he had won (he hasn’t.) Then he said that unanticipated mail-in votes were appearing out of nowhere (in fact they were long-expected.) Later, Trump’s campaign claimed it had won Pennsylvania (where votes are still being counted.)’
Other Twitter precautions include disclaimers under some of Trumps Tweets that state ‘Learn more about US 2020 election security efforts.’ Or in the case of the above tweet, ‘Official Sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted.’ Some Tweets were also restricted from sharing, so that misinformation was unable to spread as easily. YouTube has also placed labels of ‘results may not be final’ on videos containing unsubstantiated claims.
Facebook has also begun labelling to posts on both Trump and Biden accounts, informing viewers that a winner had not yet been announced and votes were still being counted. Facebook Newsroom posted: ‘Once President Trump began making premature claims of victory, we started running notifications on Facebook and Instagram that votes are still being counted and a winner is not projected. We’re also automatically applying labels to both candidates’ posts with this information.’
However, Reuters wrote: ‘Even if the disclaimers are curbing the spread of misinformation on their platforms, they have not stopped other media from amplifying Trump’s comments or his claims from hopping from one platform to another. On Fox News, Trump’s tweets were read out verbatim on Wednesday, sometimes without caveats about their veracity. And on the video-sharing site TikTok, a group called the Republican Hype House shared a video featuring a false claim that Michigan found 138,000 ballots in a lake.’
During the coronavirus pandemic, several claims by the President on the coronavirus has been misinformed from the nature of the pandemic to false remedies that have been extremely dangerous for the American people. A recent study from Cornell University of 38 million articles, found 1.1 million articles that reported misinformation on the coronavirus pandemic, and interestingly stated that: ‘One major finding is that media mentions of President Trump within the context of different misinformation topics made up 37% of the overall “misinformation conversation,” much more than any other single topic. The study concludes that Donald Trump was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation “infodemic.”’