While Social Media Was Quick To Highlight And Limit The Spread Of False Claims Of Election Victory, Traditional Media Just Let It Flow

from the guys,-seriously? dept

For four years, all we've been hearing about is how social media was this terrible source of disinformation that had to be regulated because they were destroying democracy and all that. And so what happened last night/early this morning when Donald Trump falsely tried to claim he had won prior to all the votes being counted? Twitter and Facebook both reacted pretty quickly to flag the information, and highlight that it was misleading or false (and Twitter limited the ability to share it).


Meanwhile, nearly every major TV station allowed Trump to give his speech directly, in which he falsely claimed that he had already won states where there were still many votes to be counted, insisted that the counting of votes must be stopped (and claiming he was going to ask the Supreme Court to stop the count), and suggesting that there was fraud going on in a few states that still had significant mail-in ballots to count (most of which they hadn't been able to count prior to yesterday because of Republican legislatures blocking that ability). There was no attempt to delay what he was saying, to contextualize it or to point out it was wrong until well after it had broadcast.

And then you had journalistic malpractice via the Associated Press. Two of its White House reporters, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire, decided to do a "straight" tweet repeating what Trump had said, without any context, without any caveats or context, as if it were factual reporting.


It's flabbergasting that the AP would take this view from nowhere approach to reporting on something so critical. And, even worse, since so many local newspapers just rerun AP newswire, that's the take that many people are going to see.

Other sources got it correct. Buzzfeed -- a site that old school journalists used to love to mock -- did a hell of a lot more journalism than the AP:

The Guardian, a UK paper, got the story correct as well:

We've been noting in the past year how studies have shown that TV news is the key source for disinformation and how it doesn't tend to go viral on social media until after it appears on TV.

So can someone explain to me why it is everyone wants to rush out and blame social media for disinformation?

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Filed Under: content moderation, disinformation, donald trump, elections, fact checking, jonathan lemire, media, social media, zeke miller
Companies: ap, associated press, buzzfeed, facebook, guardian, twitter


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2020 @ 5:29am

    Cue Trump demanding Section 230 be revoked once again...


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