Trump’s bans from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms may have been controversial, but they appear to have been effective in achieving one goal: combatting misinformation. According to research firm Zignal Labs, and as reported by the Washington Post, online misinformation about election fraud dropped by 73%, following Trump’s ban.
According to the report, which covers the period from January 9 to 15:
- “Conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000.”
- The use of hashtags related to the Capitol riot dipped considerably. #FightforTrump dropped by 95 percent.
- #HoldTheLine and “March for Trump” fell by 95 percent.
- Popular QAnon hashtags and phrases declined, but mentions of the conspiracy theory and its leader dubbed ‘Q’ increased by 15 percent. The latter is not necessarily due to Trump supported; it may be explained by increased coverage of the theory following the riot.
Media Matters for America also found that fewer people were sharing and clicking on content from right-leaning political Facebook pages following the ban.
Earlier research had suggested that Trump’s tweets were retweeted by his supporters at massive rates regardless of their content, giving him huge huge power for shaping conversations and perceived truths among his audience. Similarly, a study released in October found that just 20 accounts, including Trump’s, were responsible for a fifth of misinformation about voting and mail-in ballots.
Of course, a week is a very short amount of time, and there’s no telling exactly what will happen in the long-term. One also can’t fully predict how social media mentions may have trended if Trump had not been banned either.
Still, it appears for now that de-platforming worked at reducing misinformation. Trump’s following will almost certainly be smaller; the hope, now, is that it doesn’t become more extreme as users turn to social media networks that make little-to-no effort into combatting misinformation
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