However, Facebook is not the only platform that has made missteps. Although Twitter has introduced a series of policies to combat misinformation, a manipulated video that seems to show Joe Biden opening a campaign rally in Florida with the greeting, “Hello Minnesota” had been seen more than a million times two days before the election.
“This is the kind of video which is targeted against a Democratic base to try and convince them not to turnout rather than to try and convince them to vote someone else,” says Jonathan Bright, a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. “It fits with the narrative of what [Trump supporters] are trying to push of Sleepy Joe, he’s too old and a bit out of it to really know what’s going on.”
Twitter told The Telegraph the tweet was marked in line with the platform’s synthetic and Manipulated Media policy and the company has a zero-tolerance approach to manipulation and any other attempts to undermine the integrity of our service.
But Bright says this type of content is potent. “It leaves a background impression in people’s minds which isn’t going to be very easy to debunk, even through extensive fact checking,” he says.
Criticism of platforms’ efforts to suppress misinformation is almost as rampant as the misinformation itself and Goldsmith is particularly unforgiving, referencing the companies recent boom in profits.
“They have more resources available right now than they ever had. And they are not dedicating nearly enough of it to protecting the institutions of democracy,” he says.
Twitter on Monday detailed its action plan for the presidential election, saying it would place a warning label on tweets from certain accounts, including those of candidates and campaigns, that claim victory in advance of official declarations.
Only accounts with over 100,000 followers and a significant engagement will be considered for labeling, it added. It will also consider state election officials and national news outlets such as ABC News, Associated Press, CNN and Fox News that have independent election decision desks as official sources for results.
But will such efforts be enough? US official on Sunday warned that, even once the election is over, bad actors will continue to use disinformation to attempt to meddle in US politics no matter the result.
“If it is close, expect a lot of noise about voter fraud and miscounting. This will happen in any case, but the Russians will amplify it,” says James Lewis, director of the strategic technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Regardless of the outcome of the vote, what’s clear is that the battle against fake news is only just beginning – and all eyes will be on Twitter and Facebook to see if they have learned the lessons of 2016.
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