Online misinformation about the US election fell 73% after Trump's social media ban

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stop the steal
People attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump in Washington. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
  • Misinformation about US election fraud fell 73% after President Trump was banned or restricted on social media, according to one analysis.

  • Zignal Labs said conversations fell from from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 across social media.

  • Trump has peddled baseless claims that the US election was rigged thanks to mail ballots, and that he "won big."

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Online misinformation about the US election fell by as much as 73% in the week after President Trump was booted from Twitter and other social media sites.

According to findings by Zignal Labs, conversations about election fraud fell from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 across several social media sites. The research house looked at conversations that spanned fraud, hacked machines, tampered ballots, and other conspiracies.

The data indicates that tech platforms' ability to restrict the spread falsehoods is an effective approach to containing misinformation online.

Zignal monitored social media sites for misinformation during the seven days from January 9. The US Capitol riots took place January 6.

Trump was suspended from Facebook the following day and banned from Twitter on January 8. And Trump allies including former US Army lieutenant Michael Flynn, pro-Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell were also banned from Twitter. Ron Watkins, considered a key QAnon figure online, was likewise suspended.

Zignal found that hashtags relating to the Capital riots fell dramatically during the week after these suspensions. Mentions of the hashtags #FightforTrump, #HoldTheLine, and the phrase "March for Trump" all fell around 95%.

Read also: 'It was degrading': Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

QAnon-specific hashtags also fell the week after Trump was suspended from Twitter, though mentions of the conspiracy and its supposed figurehead "Q" went up.

Trump pushed a number of baseless claims about the US election through 2020, particularly pushing false claims that mail-in ballots were fraudulent or unreliable.

His tweets often went viral ahead of the election, despite Twitter slapping his messages with warning tags and click-through blocks.

Even as the election was called for President-elect Joe Biden on November 6, Trump continued to claim the election had been stolen.

With a Biden administration inevitable, social media sites have finally taken widespread action against Trump and those peddling QAnon conspiracy theories.

After Trump was booted from Twitter and suspended from Facebook and YouTube, right-wingers flocked to alternative social network Parler. Its app was banned by both Apple and Google, and the service subsequently went offline after Amazon revoked its hosting services.

Trump, meanwhile, has yet to find an avenue as effective as his own Twitter account to blast out claims of election fraud. He attempted to switch to the official POTUS account, posted a video to official White House channels, and his campaign has sent out texts and email blasts.

Darrell M. West, vice president of the Brookings thinktank, like other experts called this week for reform to Section 230, the US legal clause that largely shields major tech firms from being liable for the speech hosted on their platforms.

While curtailing Section 230 was a policy idea pushed by Trump, Insider's Isobel Asher Hamilton reported that the Biden administration is likely to proceed with reform.

West wrote: "We need Section 230 reforms that impose accountability on social media sites.

"It doesn't have to be a complete elimination of the legal liability shield that insulates large tech platforms from lawsuits, but well-constructed guardrails that protect Americans from exhortations of violence and outright hate speech."

Read the original article on Business Insider

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