I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter and find "it" a good source of information. Not Twitter per se, but certain people I follow who post of Twitter. I just pulled it up on my screen and immediately found useful leads from Change Research, John Pavlovitz (whose tweet I retweeted), and Mark Hamill, who had retweeted a psycho-Trumpist's video that makes the foul-mouthed Know-Nothing-- and I mean nothing-- on it sound like she's from Long Island and in desperate need of a lobotomy, STAT.
But Facebook... I think of Facebook as a vast wasteland of... well of lots of people like the Long Island lady who needs the lobotomy. Watch her little clip at the Hamill link. It's why I can't really waste my time on Facebook. I think of Facebook as a game or a toy and-- unlike most of the planet-- I ignore it. Blue America doesn't advertise-- Jacquie runs the Blue America Facebook page entirely on her own-- and, at best, I use it to occasionally stay in touch, sometimes resentfully, with friends who are too lazy to remember my e-mail address. Mark Zuckerberg has come to occupy a place in my pantheon of super-villains.
So, for the life of me, I can't understand how Facebook influences elections. [I have to admit that in ideal Howie-world anyone who uses Facebook as a serious source of political information would be permanently disenfranchised for the good of society and nation.] I mean someone watches that video from the pre-lobotomy lady from Lake Ronkonkoma or wherever on Long Island or Staten Island she's from and then decides to vote for her candidate-- or march on Washington to overturn the election?
Facebook refuses to close down their accounts even though they are sowing societal discord and violence, spreading misinformation with false claims of voter fraud, including falsehoods that that dead people voted, voting machines had technical glitches, and mail-in ballots were not correctly counted.
Fadi Quran, a director at Avaaz told Frenkel that "Because of how Facebook’s algorithm functions, these superspreaders are capable of priming a discourse. There is often this assumption that misinformation or rumors just catch on. These superspreaders show that there is an intentional effort to redefine the public narrative."
Frenkel explained that in the Facebook universe there were roughly 3.5 million interactions on public posts referencing "Stop the Steal" during the week of Nov. 3. Of those, the profiles of Eric Trump, "Diamond and Silk" and the neo-Nazi hairstylist accounted for 200,000 of those interactions (6%). Trump can-- and does-- spread misinformation much wider. "Of the 20 most-engaged Facebook posts over the last week containing the word 'election,'" wrote Frenkel, "all were from Mr. Trump... All of those claims were found to be false or misleading by independent fact checkers. The baseless election fraud claims have been used by [Señor Trumpanzee] and his supporters to challenge the vote in a number of states. Reports that malfunctioning voting machines, intentionally miscounted mail-in votes and other irregularities affected the vote were investigated by election officials and journalists who found no evidence of widespread voter fraud."
The voter fraud claims have continued to gather steam in recent weeks, thanks in large part to prominent accounts. A look at a four-week period starting in mid-October shows that President Trump and the top 25 superspreaders of voter fraud misinformation accounted for 28.6 percent of the interactions people had with that content, according to an analysis by Avaaz.
“What we see these people doing is kind of like setting a fire down with fuel, it is designed to quickly create a blaze,” Mr. Quran said. “These actors have built enough power they ensure this misinformation reaches millions of Americans.”
In order to find the superspreaders, Avaaz compiled a list of 95,546 Facebook posts that included narratives about voter fraud. Those posts were liked, shared or commented on nearly 60 million times by people on Facebook.
Avaaz found that just 33 of the 95,546 posts were responsible for over 13 million of those interactions. Those 33 posts had created a narrative that would go on to shape what millions of people thought about the legitimacy of the U.S. elections.
A spokesman for Facebook said the company had added labels to posts that misrepresented the election process and was directing people to a voting information center.
“We’re taking every opportunity to connect people to reliable information about the election and how votes are being counted,” said Kevin McAlister, a Facebook spokesman. The company has not commented on why accounts that repeatedly share misinformation, such as Mr. Straka’s and Diamond and Silk’s, have not been penalized. Facebook has previously said that President Trump, along with other elected officials, is granted a special status and is not fact-checked.
Many of the superspreader accounts had millions of interactions on their Facebook posts over the last month, and have enjoyed continued growth. The accounts were active on Twitter as well as Facebook, and increasingly spread the same misinformation on new social media sites like Parler, MeWe and Gab.
Dan Bongino, a right-wing commentator with a following of nearly four million people on Facebook, had over 7.7 million interactions on Facebook the week of Nov. 3. Mark Levin, a right-wing radio host, had nearly four million interactions, and Diamond and Silk had 2.5 million. A review of their pages by The Times shows that a majority of their posts have focused on the recent elections, and voter fraud narratives around them.
...Trump had by far the largest influence on Twitter. A single tweet by the president accusing Dominion voting systems of deleting 2.7 million votes in his favor was shared over 185,000 times, and liked over 600,000 times.
Like the other false claims about voter fraud, Mr. Trump’s tweet included a label by Twitter that he was sharing information that was not accurate.
Twitter, like Facebook, has said that those labels help prevent false claims from being shared and direct people toward more authoritative sources of information.
Earlier this week, BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook employees questioned whether the labels were effective. Within the company, employees have sought out their own data on how well national newspapers performed during the elections, according to one Facebook employee.
On the #StoptheSteal hashtag, they found that both the New York Times and the Washington Post were among the top 25 pages with interactions on that hashtag-- mainly from readers sharing articles and using the hashtag in those posts. (People sharing the articles could have been intending to debunk the campaign.)
Combined, the two publications had approximately 44,000 interactions on Facebook under that hashtag. By comparison, Mr. Straka, [the neo-Nazi hairstylist from New York] who shared the call to action on voter fraud, got three times that number of interactions sharing material under the same hashtag on his own Facebook account.