Weekly Post 11
Social media companies had a huge responsibility to curb misinformation efforts during the 2016 election and fell extremely short. This time around, many companies had prepared ways to curb the spread of misinformation. However, with so much buzz about the election as well as everyone being tuned in, posts with false information were not able to be flagged soon enough to warn most people. As these prominent public figures began posting throughout the night, some falsely and prematurely declaring victory, social media companies were not able to flag this information before millions of people saw it. At this point, a lot of people have already believed and spread the misinformation. While this more aggressive approach is a step in the right direction, it isn’t close to how Social Media companies need to handle elections. I saw a lot of un-flagged tweets that claimed victory, but when I went back later, a lot of them were flagged, but at that point it was too late.
One suggestion that I saw was to preemptively delay tweets made by public officials until a human moderator can either approve of or flag the tweet. This would only be for the most prominent public figures whose tweets could spread misinformation very rapidly such as Biden and Trump, and maybe higher profile Senate and House races. This would allow the social media companies to curb the misinformation before it starts rather than after millions of people have already seen, believed, and spread it.
While social media companies made more of an aggressive effort to curb misinformation this time, I believe their effort would have been better spent with a better strategy to curb misinformation before it reaches so many people. Overall, this is a step in the right direction, but for me, they get a C for their effectiveness this week and especially on Tuesday night. It seems like these social media companies are working harder instead of smarter on issues of false information. A rethink in strategy and implementation should be on every one of these companies minds. Not just for future elections, but for other instances of false information as well.