The Election Misinformation Is Only Beginning

The Election Misinformation Is Only Beginning
Illustration: Jim Cooke

All the votes have been cast in the 2020 U.S. election, but thanks to the pandemic, unprecedented turnout, and Republicans delaying early counting, the results are still coming in. The misinformation campaign is in full swing, though.

Early on Wednesday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump falsely declared victory. His lead has shrunk as more ballots get counted in swing states, but he hasn’t stopped tweeting misinformation to cast doubt on the normal process of counting legally cast ballots. Both Twitter and Facebook, where Trump has posted misinformation, have appended warnings to his posts — but what those warnings actually accomplish is far from clear. The fact that his posts remain on the sites points to the peril of the moment and the danger of platforms that allow frictionless posting with the ability to reach billions of people instantly.

To understand our current information environment, we talked to Gizmodo’s resident misinformation experts, Tom McKay and Dell Cameron, for this week’s System Reboot episode. They told us about the general contours of misinformation, and detailed how Tom unwittingly tested Twitter’s defences against it. We also asked how regular folks could inoculate themselves against the flood of misinformation. (The answer appears to be mostly “log off,” which is, frankly, good life advice.)

You can take a listen below and find this and other episodes of System Reboot in the following places.