Top 10 Misinformation Storylines on Election Week

Election week was a misinformation event of Super Bowl-size proportions.

Most false and misleading narratives about the election focused on baseless allegations of voter fraud or Democrats stealing the election. Those false accusations often spiked when President Trump and his allies — including his family members — shared those claims on social media.

But there were also plenty of misleading storylines to go around.

Zignal Labs, a media insights company, analyzed topics related to the election in which misinformation was a major part of the storyline. The company tallied all the mentions of those topics on social media, cable news and print and online news outlets. Here are the Top 10 misinformation storylines it found from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9:

Voter fraud in swing states far and away generated the most mentions among the topics Zignal Labs studied. Within this category, Zignal found stories about software glitches in Georgia voting machines and suitcases full of ballots being wheeled into a Detroit polling site being falsely pushed as proof of widespread voter fraud.

Mr. Trump and other Republicans amplified the call to count all “legal votes” in their battle to reverse an election outcome.

“Stop the steal” became a rallying cry for people to falsely claim that the ballot count for the presidential election was being manipulated against Mr. Trump.

Another motto by pro-Trump supporters, chants of “Stop the count!” were heard at protests over ballot tallies across several U.S. cities, in spite of overwhelming evidence that instances of voter fraud is rare.

On Wednesday, unfounded accusations about how the use of felt-tip pens invalidated people’s votes in Arizona spread widely. State officials quickly rebutted the claims.

The sharp rise in absentee ballots in this year’s election have led to unsupported claims that many ineligible ballots were being counted. But election officials processing ballots have found that fewer of them were actually being rejected this year.

Mentions of missing or magically found ballots have soared in the past week, with people pointing to incidents like the one in Michigan, in which Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared to have suddenly received 138,339 votes in an update of the state’s vote tally. But this was attributable to a clerical error that was quickly fixed.

Rumors of how the “deep state” — a so-called secret cabal of elites — must be involved in manipulating the election became popular in the last week, pushing mentions over 300,000. The deep state plot ties in with the baseless but still wildly popular conspiracy movement QAnon.

A video of Mr. Biden deceptively edited to make it appear as though he were admitting to voter fraud was viewed more than 17 million times before Election Day, and circulated anew from Nov. 3 to Nov. 9, in spite of being debunked.

Among a number of other examples, a lawsuit about dead people on voter rolls and run-of-the-mill clerical errors have been used as false evidence of voter fraud in Pennsylvania and Michigan.




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