Check your U.S. voter registration status or register to vote here.

Misinformation Attacks During the October 2019 Presidential Debates

Nir Hauser
Nov 10, 2019 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post

We’re VineSight, an AI startup that detects misinformation on social networks. For over a year now, we have been analyzing the Internet’s social graphs for content and connections in order to detect misinformation mere moments after it’s released into the wild — regardless of whether it appears as raw text, images, memes, or video. Today, our automated technology finds potential misinformation tweets within hours after they are posted.

We created similar reports on misinformation attacks during the June debates, the July debates and the September debates.

Every tweet in this report was identified by VineSight , using our cutting edge AI technology and subsequently stored in our misinformation database. In this report we only included tweets that passed a viral threshold of retweets and likes. Most of them have hundreds or thousands of shares, allowing us to present a snapshot of the viral and influential misinformation currently making its way through social media.

In this next section, we will break down the specific attacks that are being launched at the top Democratic presidential candidates. But before doing so, let’s first give you a sense of which top candidates were subjected to the most misinformation in recent months.

In the past few weeks we have seen an interesting phenomenon: misinformation attacks have mainly targeted Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats, such as Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. Most of these attacks have been related to the recent impeachment hearings. There is a smaller than usual focus on the other presidential candidates. Candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and even Bernie Sanders, all of whom were prominent targets during the previous presidential debates, are receiving far less viral misinformations attacks in this round.

The graph below displays the percentage of misinformation targeting each candidate as detected by VineSight from October 13th to 16th 2019.

Image for post
Image for post

Now, let’s dive down candidate by candidate to look at the misinformation attacks against each one. As you go through the tweets, draw your attention to their virality and the fact that most were published in the last few days.

Misinformation Attacks on Joe Biden

Trolls and bots have been spreading claims that Joe Biden has been paid $900k by the Ukrainian company Burisma, the company for which his son Hunter has been working.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Trolls are spreading many viral stories claiming that Joe Biden’s loyalty lies with China. Other stories mentioned that his son Hunter is involved in Chinese espionage activity and that China paid him $1.5 Billion.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here, here, here, here, and here

Trolls are pushing an article by TruePundit, which claims that the Justice Department “may have to investigate Joe Biden”.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here and here

Misinformation Attacks on Beto O’ Rourke

Trolls and bots are pushing an article by Breitbart that claim O’Rourke “failed” to meet the criteria for the November 20th debate. However, the final day to meet the criteria is in November.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Misinformation Attacks on Kamala Harris

Trolls and bots claim there is new evidence that Kamala Harris and Cory Booker were part of the Jussie Smollett Hoax.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Misinformation Attacks on Elizabeth Warren

Trolls and bots have been accusing Warren of lying about her past. In one line of attack, she is accused of lying about being fired because of her pregnancy. Another viral story claims that she lied about her father being a janitor. These stories were retweeted by and.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here, here, here, here and here

Misinformation Attacks on Cory Booker

Trolls, bots, and the Trump campaign have been misquoting Cory Booker. Booker was misquoted saying: “Trump supporters are despicable” and accusing Catholics of “wanting to use religion as a justification for discrimination”.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Roger Stone and other trolls are accusing Cory Booker of stealing $600k from Newark while being mayor, and laundering it through his law firm. The video has been watched over 175 thousand times.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Misinformation Attacks on Tulsi Gabbard

Bots and trolls are claiming that Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian agent.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Misinformation About CNN

During the debate, Tulsi Gabbard ran out of time while asking Elizabeth Warren a question. Trolls and bots interpreted it as a deliberate attempt by CNN to censor Gabbard and perhaps to help Warren. According to the posts, this anti-Gabbard behavior is corroborated by the “leaked CNN tapes” that Project Veritas uncovered.

Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here and here

Misinformation Attacks on Democrats

The whistleblower’s attorneys stated that the whistleblower has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials — not as candidates. Many reported this as if the whistleblower had been in contact with the presidential candidates while they were candidates, and that he was perhaps even working with them.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Original posts here, here, here and here

Conclusion

These tweets and stories only scratch the surface of what we are currently seeing in the wild — and only represent the beginning of what is sure to be a volatile campaign season. If you are interested in getting deeper insights into a candidate or a topic, or in hearing more about the trends we’re currently detecting, contact us at info@vinesight.com.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store