Saturday 9 January 2021

Victims of viral disinformation

If you're one of those people who believes that there was voter fraud and rigging in the US presidential election and that Donald Trump may have actually won the election, or if you're one of those who thinks that the deadly fracas in the Capitol building on Wednesday involved Antifa 'false flags'...

...well, here's Marianna Spring of the BBC's Disinformation Unit (on Thursday) to tell you that you're a "victim" of "viral disinformation".

(And Christian blames "the right-wing media" too):

Christian Fraser: It was so striking listening to those people as they went up the steps of the Capitol building yesterday Marianna about what they believe, what they understand to be true. What are they saying today on social media? What have you seen? 
Marianna Spring;  Those images, those interviews, were very, very striking because a lot of people really, genuinely, do believe allegations of rigged elections, of voter fraud - conspiracies that have been circulating on social media in recent weeks and months - very passionately, and in many ways too they have fallen victim to viral disinformation. Today we have seen even more disinformation online, more conspiracies. A lot of it has focused on who was there outside Congress yesterday and inside, and there are lots of images showing supporters of the QAnon Conspiracy - that's the baseless conspiracy that suggests President Trump is waging a secret war against satanic paedophiles - as well as those who are part of the Stop the Steal movement that emerged in the days following the election when it appeared that Joe Biden was going to win, and also extreme groups like the Proud Boys and others who have been linked to far-right groups and circles. But today the suggestion from those people, influencers within those conspiracy communities, was that people causing the trouble yesterday were Antifa - anti-fascist groups. There is no evidence to support that idea, and a lot of the pictures they are using to demonstrate that show recognisable conspiracy influencers, generally on the far right. So those claims are not true. But in the chaos of what has been building on social media, and in the days afterwards, we are just seeing more and more conspiracies. 
Christian Fraser: Yeah, and some of that is stoked by the right-wing media as well. 
Katty Kay:  I'm going to assume, Marianna, that all of that now gets traction, and that is what the narrative becomes amongst those groups. Does suspending President Trump make any difference in that case or is this bigger than one person now? 
Marianna Spring:  I think that it is bigger than one person. President Trump's social media accounts have been crucial to fuelling the conspiracies spreading on social media for a number of months. But what is key here is, this is not something that came out of the blue, It has been building online for weeks and weeks, not just after the election but in the build-up to that too. Conspiracies like QAnon have thrived on platforms like Facebook, like Twitter, like Instagram and YouTube, and President Trump since April has been tweeting allegations of voter fraud showing no evidence, claims about rigged elections that have further fuelled those conspiracies. So many people have been primed over a number of months on social media to genuinely believe false claims. And what you remove now and do now almost feels slightly futile because the very worst thing, the fears, were realised yesterday. And those fears were that not only viral information can inspire violence but in many ways it can erode democracy. We saw that happen. 
Christian Fraser: Yeah, Interesting that the DC police have asked for people to come forward with information. A lot of it is there on social media, You can tell who these people are, as you say. Marianna, thank you very much indeed. Thank you. 

Are you? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.