Fake tweet suggesting Biden’s Pennsylvania win rescinded by news outlet goes viral

‘It’s a detriment to our democracy, misleading the American people about the democratic process’

Louise Hall
Wednesday 11 November 2020 14:02
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A fake tweet claiming that Joe Biden had lost Pennsylvania and his president-elect title went viral on Twitter days after major news outlets declared the state in his favour.

According to a report by The New York Times, a number of high profile right wing personalities tweeted falsely on Monday evening claiming that political news site Real Clear Politics had “rescinded” Mr Biden’s projected win in the state.

The falsehood, reportedly pushed by the likes of Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, was then posted to YouTube on The Next News Network’s verified account, where it went viral amassing over 90,000 views in 12 hours, the newspaper reported.

“This is false,” Tom Bevan, president and co-founder of Real Clear Politics, tweeted in response to the false claims. “We never called Pennsylvania, and nothing has changed.”

The declaration of Mr Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania by the Associated Press tipped the former vice-president over the number of electoral college votes he needed to secure the presidency.

President Donald Trump has yet to concede to the president-elect and has also been frequently promoting baseless claims of voter fraud in swing states that he says cost him his victory.

Google Trends revealed that search interest in the term: “Biden loses Pennsylvania” increased 1,150 percent within one hour and peaked near 9.00pm, The Times reported.

Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation analyst at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank, told The Times: “It’s a detriment to our democracy, misleading the American people about the democratic process and building distrust in our institutions that will linger long after this election cycle is concluded.”

“If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election,” Bill Russo, a spokesman for the Biden campaign tweeted on Monday.

“Just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after.”

Social media platforms have struggled to address misinformation and hateful content in recent years. Amidst the election companies have been banning groups and hashtags, altering search results, labelling posts, down-ranking problematic content to prevent its spread.

Facebook and Twitter have added warning labels to posts that contain misinformation in an attempt to combat misinformation amidst the election, including over a dozen posts by Mr Trump.

On Tuesday, many of the posts containing the false information regarding Pennsylvania had been flagged by the platforms, but the precaution seemingly had little impact on the spread, the newspaper said.

YouTube told The Times that the viral video containing false information had been labeled but does not violate its deceptive practices policy, while Twitter said it would continue to label individual posts concerning the matter.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Independent: “This claim has been rated false by multiple third-party fact-checking partners. As a result, its distribution is dramatically reduced so fewer people see it. Anyone who sees it, tries to share it, or has already done so is seeing warnings alerting them that it’s false.” 

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