A year after the Capitol attack, misinformation still lurks in American politics

When the supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, they were very nervous because of allegations that were repeatedly repeated without foundation indicating that there had been generalized fraud in the presidential elections, which prevented the Republican candidate from winning in 2020, and despite the passage of a year since that, This misinformation continues.
For months, Donald Trump, who was one of the largest Twitter users, had instilled in his tens of millions of followers the idea that the elections might be rigged. On the sixth of January, prior to the attack, which left people dead, he denounced electoral fraud during a rally in front of the White House.
Twitter and Facebook suspended Trump’s accounts after the violence, and election officials, including Republicans, and dozens of courts have refuted allegations of fraud.
However, opinion polls show that many Americans continue to believe the “big lie” that the Republican billionaire continues to tell, and whose repercussions go far beyond the January 6, 2021 attack.
“These repeated allegations threaten the credibility and confidence of our democratic system,” said Nina Jankovic, a researcher at the Wilson Center think-tank.

“Born on Social Networks”
And misinformation about elections is not new. Donald Trump published a lot of it in 2016 before he defeated Hillary Clinton. However, social media that exploits the polarization in society, facilitates its spread and allows those who believe in it to organize their ranks to launch violent movements.
“The January 6th attack was born on social networks,” explains Emerson Brooking, a researcher at the Digital Forensic Research Lab.
He adds that the “Stop Theft” movement has locked millions of people in an alternate reality and pushed them from collective delusion to hysteria and then to mass violence against the US Congress.
He continues, saying that this movement “has become the most important thing in the world for tens of thousands of Americans.”
Social networking platforms have been vigilant against those who spread misleading news and conspiracy theories. Facebook has especially withdrawn content that includes the phrase “Stop Theft,” while Twitter has suspended tens of thousands of accounts linked to the “QAnon” group, which believes in the conspiracy theory, whose members played a major role in the attack on the Capitol Building.
Brooking believes that social networks have “generally and effectively succeeded in preventing election-related lies.”
He goes on to say that those who consider the elections to be stolen from Trump are still active on the signatories, and “the rejection of the election results is based more on coded language and closed groups.”
Despite Trump’s exclusion from Twitter and Facebook, the former US president still has an online presence, especially through a list of email addresses that includes many subscribers, while he continues through statements that the elections are “rigged.”

winning strategy
Trump also enjoys the support of major supporters who convey his words, as Yunkang Yang, a researcher at Georgetown University, explains that “Trump is still the focus of conversations, not on Twitter or Facebook, but through several right-wing media personalities such as Dan Bongeno, the presenter at Fox News, and Bill O’Reilly, the owner of a blogger Conservative vocal, and Candace Owens, who presents a talk show on the conservative DailyWire website.
Suspicion of the traditional media leads people who believe that the elections were rigged, to disbelief the journalists who prove that this did not happen.
“Although most media outlets have devoted a lot of time to showing that allegations of electoral fraud are false, their message does not reach Republican voters with the same force as in the past,” Yang added.
“A lot of the right-wing media has fueled doubts about the 2020 election, and some have openly asserted that it was stolen,” thus providing “an alternative space for Republican voters who have abandoned traditional media,” he added.
Although Joe Biden has actually entered the White House, those who believe these fraud allegations can promote their views on independent websites and social networking platforms that thrive on the polarization of the American political scene.
With the midterm elections approaching and the presidential election in 2024, during which Donald Trump may run again, there is no sign of improvement.
Emerson Brooking notes that “media disinformation and rejection of the results of the 2020 elections almost topped democratic elections. There is no reason to change a winning strategy.”


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