Twitter and social platforms could see a surge in election misinformation

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NOVEMBER 9 (Reuters) – False election information is spreading across social media platforms including Meta Platform’s (META.O) Twitter and Facebook as vote counting continued for Wednesday’s US midterm elections in key battleground states, experts said.

Online misinformation experts have been working to push back misleading narratives that have been spreading in the run-up to the election, including that only the results announced Tuesday night were legitimate.

“We have seen bad actors and we will continue to do so … pushing the narrative that only the results of election night count,” Emma Steiner, a disinformation analyst at the nonprofit group Common Cause, said during a news conference on Wednesday.

As key battleground states like Arizona continue to tabulate results, “we may see a rise in census disinformation,” she said.

The proliferation of such content raises questions about how social media platforms enforce their policies against misleading content about elections.

Common Cause, which monitors social media for voter-suppression efforts, said Tuesday Twitter had taken no action on posts the organization had flagged as problematic.

Twitter, now owned by billionaire Elon Musk, laid off about half of its employees last week, including many employees responsible for curating and increasing credible information about the service.

The company, which has lost many members of its communications team, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some online posts also circulated videos without context, weaving them into narratives aimed at challenging the legitimacy of the election, Steiner said.

A widely shared video of a Wisconsin poll worker marking required initials on ballots was misinterpreted as a Philadelphia poll worker filling in ballots and resonated on Twitter and TikTok, she said.

In the battleground state of Arizona, problems with dozens of electronic vote counting machines were also picked up Tuesday by former US President Donald Trump and his supporters, who falsely claimed on social media and elsewhere that it was evidence of voter fraud by Democrats.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; additional reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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