Over a week after the 2020 presidential election results were determined, Facebook has reportedly determined that putting warning labels on President Donald Trump's posts is ineffective at stopping his misinformation from spreading. Facebook and Twitter have both begun adding warnings to the Trump campaign's posts if they contain lies about the election result. However, BuzzFeed News obtained internal documents showing that Facebook knows these attempts are not working.
Trump continues to insist on social media that he won the election, in spite of the fact that he lost. However, that does not stop his followers from believing him — even if Facebook itself warns them not to. Internal data reportedly shows that reshares of Trump's posts declined by about 8 percent after Facebook added a misinformation warning label, but they still remained some of the most engaged-with posts on the entire site. All in all, these labels seemed to do little to slow the spread of Trump's lies, and experts are concerned that they are not impacting people's trust in them, either.
"We have evidence that applying these 'informs' to posts decreases their reshares by ~8 percent," a Facebook data scientist told BuzzFeed News. "However given that Trump has SO many shares on any given post, the decrease is not going to change shares by orders of magnitude."
Still, that scientist noted that the goal was not to slow the spread of the misinformation, but "to provide factual information in context to the post." Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois added that "informs" are "just one piece of our larger election integrity efforts."
Social media companies including Facebook and Twitter have been stepping up their misinformation policies for the last few months, from the coronavirus pandemic into the election season. However, some watch-dog groups and civil rights advocates are concerned that the companies have acted too slowly, and not decisively enough.
I’ve observed more than once how the most enthusiastic disinformation purveyors get hit hardest by what they’re pushing in the end https://t.co/mCEqxdMTRw— Brooke Binkowski (@brooklynmarie) November 17, 2020
On Tuesday morning, social media executives — including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — were called on to testify in front of the United States Senate on "censorship, suppression and the 2020 elections." However, the hearing was led by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and many misinformation specialists questioned his place in the hearing. Journalist Brooke Binkowski called Graham one of "the most enthusiastic disinformation purveyors," and many pundits pointed out that Graham had been accused of voter suppression just 24 hours before this hearing, according to a report by CNN.
Both Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey defended their decisions during the last few months in the hearing. It is not clear what Graham hoped to accomplish through his interrogations.