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How To Read Your Social Media Feeds On Election Day | Economic news

Voters in the United States who take to Twitter, TikTok, Facebook or other platforms to learn about Tuesday’s crucial US midterm elections are likely to meet rumours, hearsay and misinformation.

There is also a lot of useful information about social mediaincluding authoritative results from election officials, the latest news on candidates and races, and insights from voters casting their ballots.

Here are some tips for navigating social media on Election Day — and in the days or weeks after.

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THERE IS FRAUD

Elections are run by humans and mistakes are inevitable. Yet, stripped of their context, stories of irregularities at polling stations and election offices can be used as evidence of widespread fraud.

And with so much going on on Election Day, election workers, local officials and even the media have little time to push back against such claims before they go viral.

In Georgia in 2020, a water leak on a site where ballots were counted was used to tell a far-fetched story of ballot box rigging. In Arizona, the choice of pens given to voters filling out the ballots led to equally absurd claims.

Neither incident affected the results, but both continue to appear in misleading messages as evidence of fraud.

“The internet allows people to create their own evidence from scratch and then distribute it to millions of others,” said John Jackson, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. “It doesn’t mean their evidence means anything, but it does mean we all need to better assess what they say.”

KNOW YOUR BLIND SPOTs

Misinformation thrives when people seek out information to explain something they don’t understand. This creates a great opportunity for those who seek to confuse or mislead voters.

The complicated rules and checks and balances governing US elections vary from state to state. They can confuse someone unfamiliar with election procedures, and this confusion has allowed misinformation to thrive.

Many of the misleading claims circulated ahead of the election centered on issues of voting mechanics: voter registration, mail-in ballots and vote counting. Many election officials have attempted to educate the public in recent months with social media posts, articles and advertisements about the system that many people take for granted.

“Anytime people don’t understand something, there’s a void that needs to be filled,” said AJ Nash, vice president of intelligence at ZeroFox, a cybersecurity firm that has tracked election disinformation this year. “The question is, what ends up filling that void?”

CHECK YOUR SOURCES

If you are looking for election results, go to local and national election websites and trusted local and national news outlets.

If you see someone reporting problems at a polling place, for example, check the social media feed or the local election office’s website.

Avoid getting all of your election information from social media. Rules regarding content moderation vary widely from platform to platform, and enforcement can be spotty. Even the owners of the platforms themselves are not immune to the spread of false information, because The new owner of TwitterElon Musk did.

According to Bhaskar Chakravorti, who studies technological change and society and is the dean of global affairs at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, a well-rounded media diet rich in authoritative and trustworthy sources can help people Avoid falling into the trap of misinformation or spreading it.

“Do you consult original sources or just get your information from social media?” said Chakravorti. “If you only use sources from social media, you will be more vulnerable to misinformation.”

BE CAREFUL OF YOUR EMOTIONS

The most viral misleading claims often rely on tricks persuade a person to believe something that is not true.

Emotionally charged language is one of the most effective: be wary of any statement that seems designed to provoke a strong emotional response such as fear or anger. These strong feelings can cause a person to repost a false statement before they’ve had a chance to think about it.

Question any claim that does not provide its sources or makes one-sided claims. Also beware of exaggerated claims, misleading comparisons, and claims that single out groups of people by race or origin.

If something sounds too good – or too awful – to be true, check it out. Someone may be trying to trick you, said Rebecca Rayburn-Reeves, a senior behavioral researcher at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, who develops ways to make people more resilient to misinformation.

“It’s about using your critical thinking,” Rayburn-Reeves said. “Be open-minded, but also skeptical. I say: Be a kind skeptic.

BE PATIENT! IT TAKES TIME FOR RESULTS TO COUNT

The United States has a long history of elections that have taken days, weeks or even months to settle. The recent increase in the use of mail-in ballots has only increased the certainty that some races will not be decided on Tuesday evening.

Election officials in several states have already announced that they expect some results to take longer. In major battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona, election officials can’t start counting absentee ballots until election day, guaranteeing delays.

Yet the idea that late voting equals fraud continues to reverberate online and is likely to continue spreading long after Election Day thanks to the candidates and politicians who amplified the claim, according to Larry Norden, Senior Director of Elections and Government Program at Brennan. New York University Center for Justice.

“It leaves room for doubt, and people will take advantage of it,” Norden told the AP. “This is part of a deliberate effort to undermine confidence in the election.”


Follow the AP’s misinformation coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/misinformation. Follow the AP for full coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics. And check https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to find out more about the issues and factors at play in the medium term.