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(109,229 posts)
Tue Jun 25, 2024, 03:14 PM Jun 25

What happened to Stanford's election integrity project spells trouble for the election [View all]

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In 2020 the Stanford Internet Observatory, where I was until recently the research director, helped lead a project that studied election rumors and disinformation. As part of that work, we frequently encountered conspiratorial thinking from Americans who had been told the 2020 presidential election was going to be stolen.

The way theories of “the steal” went viral was eerily routine. First, an image or video, such as a photo of a suitcase near a polling place, was posted as evidence of wrongdoing. The poster would tweet the purported evidence, tagging partisan influencers or media accounts with large followings. Those accounts would promote the rumor, often claiming, “Big if true!” Others would join, and the algorithms would push it out to potentially millions more. Partisan media would follow.

If the rumor was found to be false — and it usually was — corrections were rarely made and even then, little noticed. The belief that “the steal” was real led directly to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Within a couple of years, the same online rumor mill turned its attention to us — the very researchers who documented it. This spells trouble for the 2024 election.
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