EXPLAINER: How much misinformation is kicking around?

·2 min read

They go together all too closely these days: momentous events — and bad information that tells an inaccurate story about how they're happening. The two days since Election Day, predictably, demonstrate this to be true.

Karen Mahabir, fact check and misinformation editor for The Associated Press, says her team of reporters has had no shortage of work since Americans stopped voting late Tuesday. Her staff has written nearly 20 separate pieces debunking bad information in English and Spanish, and laid out the misinformation landscape in a nearly half a dozen other stories. “It's been a really busy time for us,” Mahabir says.

Here, she answers three quick questions about the misinformation landscape at the moment.

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WHAT ARE YOU SEEING SINCE THE VOTING ENDED?

We're starting to see a lot more misinformation focusing on the ballots and the voting process — ballot boxes being removed, states that changed names from one candidate or another, none of which is true. Lots from Pennsylvania and other closely contested states, a lot about ballots being quote-unquote “found.”

HOW ARE THE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS DOING WHEN IT COMES TO MISINFO?

We know they stepped up all their efforts to curb misinformation, which seems to be working for the most part. They're taking action. They're labeling posts they know to be inaccurate and what they're doing is they're pointing people to the correct sources of information. It remains to be seen how much impact that's going to have, but we're noticing it more and more. But it's good to see.

WHAT DO YOU SEE ON THE HORIZON IN COMING DAYS?

I think we're going to see a lot more claims that are focused on the states that are still counting the votes. We'll see anecdotal situations that are probably going to be blown out of proportion.” All of this is kind of typical. It’s taking reality and twisting it into something that it’s not, creating an impression of impropriety.

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SOME RECENT AP STORIES ABOUT MISINFORMATION:

— Claim that Sharpie pens ruin Arizona ballots misses the mark

— Trump and allies spread falsehoods to cast doubt on election

— Did social media actually counter election misinformation?

— Pennsylvania emerges as online misinformation hot spot

The Associated Press