Americans Were Primed To Believe The Current Onslaught Of Disinformation

Americans Were Primed To Believe The Current Onslaught Of Disinformation

It started with a drizzle but quickly turned into a downpour: disinformation about the elections and, in particular, unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, flooded the internet last week. And the Americans were ready to believe it.

Dozens of false claims have been shared on social media have employed fact checkers and partisans excited. Pro-Trump Facebook groups contesting election results have attracted tens of thousands of users and have become a vibrant marketplace for sharing disinformation (up to The social media network closes them). And President Trump’s supporters have also shown up in person Rail against what they see as election fraud.

According to polls, a significant percentage of the population, particularly Republicans (with no evidence), believe that election fraud has occurred. According to a YouGov and The Economist poll 82 percent of Republicans said they don’t believe Joe Biden rightly won the presidential election when he did. November 7th followed YouGov survey Among the registered voters, 79 percent of Republicans felt that electoral fraud had occurred and was affecting the election result. Likewise in a Politico / Morning Consult survey Seventy percent of Republicans said the 2020 election was not thought to be free and fair – twice as many as the 35 percent of Republicans who responded this way in a pre-election poll.

To some extent, disinformation about the election results was expected. Experts | have warned against it for weeks. “But I think the volume of junk and the inability of social media platforms to have effective means to stop the undermining of the election results are really worrying,” said Craig Silverman, a journalist at BuzzFeed News who reported the disinformation consistently followed Die Wahl. “When it became clear that Trump would not admit, the machinery to justify this decision really got into high gear. I feel like it was just as bad today as it was before election day.”

A number of factors may have led the American public to seek, believe, and share disinformation since Election Day. Trump’s month-long allegations of impending fraud, the collective stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic, and the rare delay in learning the election results combined resulted in a perfect storm of disinformation.

Trump set the stage

Even before he became president, Trump alleged electoral fraud without producing any evidence. During his 2016 campaign, he claimed the election was “Manipulated” in favor of Clinton, predicted widespread electoral fraud and announced that it would do so Only accept the election results if he has won. Over the past year, he repeated many of the same unsubstantiated allegations, specifically addressing the mail-in poll that he claimed (again without evidence) would lead to fraud.

Whether Trump realized it or not, he was dealing with what academics call a primer.

“When priming, an outside source, a sender of information, is trying to get people to think in a certain way,” said Mark Whitmore, professor of management and information systems at Kent State University has investigated misinformation and cognitive prejudice. “One of the ways priming happens is through partiality. When that happens, people are more likely to think along the lines of a party to which they feel they belong. “

When people are already prepared to think about a topic in certain ways, it can lead them to search for information that confirms their existing beliefs. ONE Study published in 2016For example, participants were prepared to consider either their political or personal views on health care before evaluating factual statements about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The researchers found that when Democrats were prepared to ponder their partisan leanings, they were more likely to rate the ACA’s positive results based on strong evidence, and Republicans were more likely to rate the same results based on weak evidence. However, when they were prepared to consider their personal views on health care, the gap between the two groups narrowed.

There are those too illusory truth effect: A phenomenon in which the more people are exposed to an idea, the more likely they are to perceive it as true, regardless of political leanings. Gordon Pennycook, a behavioral scientist at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, has found that the illusory truth effect can lead people rather believe disinformation. According to Pennycook, this is probably not the only thing causing so many people to seek disinformation related to the elections.

“I don’t think you need to know the illusory truth to explain that the things Trump said made people ready to accept that the elections would be fraudulent,” Pennycook said. “Illusory truth is one aspect of it, but for some people it would probably be enough just to hear Trump say it once.”

The pandemic increased anxiety

2020 was not a year of certainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, not to mention the economy, and changed the way the elections were conducted. All of these factors contributed to an increase Levels of stress and anxiety about the direction of the country in the run-up to the elections. Some of this fear has been recorded in surveys: In a survey by the New York Times / Siena College from mid-October57 percent of likely voters said they were “very concerned” that the next generation would be worse off than their own, and 54 percent said they were “very concerned” that America was “no longer” [be] a democracy. “When Trump lost, his supporters probably got more anxious.

“People are concerned and are looking for answers – and some of those answers [in this case] are provided by disinformation, ”said Oliver Robinson, a neuroscientist who heads the Anxiety Lab for the Neuroscience and Mental Health Group at University College London.

It is natural to want to find more information in case of uncertainty. (I assume that’s why many of you have kept up with our live blogs.) However, when you combine that uncertainty and the search for answers with another cognitive bias, an affirmative bias, you create a way for disinformation to invade Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. If you are prepared to believe that the choice would be fraudulent and concerned about the uncertainty of the results, you may be looking for information that confirms that belief. So far, all of this information has proven unfounded, but there is a lot of it, and a lot of it is very compelling.

Record a viral video shared by the President’s son, Eric Trump allegedly someone showed burning ballots marked for his father. The video was debunked – the papers in question were demonstrably sample votes The barcode for the official ballot papers was missing have on the verge – but people continue to share it online as “evidence” of alleged electoral fraud.

“Different forms of misinformation have different implications,” said Jamieson. “The video of the supposedly burned ballot has a persuasive power that a simple verbal assertion would not have because we tend to trust what we see.”

But due to the growing distrust of the media, people often refuse fact-checking as well. In fact, many of the experts I’ve spoken to said that some voters won’t see through the disinformation until Trump and other leading Republicans accept the election results. Until then, the flood should continue.

BuzzFeed’s Silverman said, “The results won’t be confirmed until later in November in many key states, so we really have weeks of ridiculous and dangerous, democratic-undermining disinformation.”


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