Deplatforming Trump Is Already Having a Huge Impact

A new report finds election misinformation online has fallen 73 percent since the president’s ban from Twitter.

Jeff Swensen/Getty

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

It’s been nine days of relative calm since Twitter cut off a major spigot of election misinformation from President Donald Trump’s account—setting off a chain of suspensions across Facebook, Snapchat, Twitch, and other platforms that affected the president, his allies, and others who stoked violence in the lead up to the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Now, a new report reveals just how consequential these platforms’ decision has been since @realDonaldTrump went quiet. Since January 8, when Twitter banned Trump, online misinformation about election fraud has plummeted 73 percent, according to research from analytics firm Zignal Labs, the Washington Post reported on Saturday. Hashtags and terms associated with the Capitol riot—including #FightforTrump, #HoldTheLine, and “March for Trump”—fell 95 percent or more.

While phrases used by believers in QAnon also dropped, mentions of QAnon and “Q” grew slightly—perhaps due to media coverage of the conspiracy’s role in Capitol riot, according to the Washington Post. 

Zignal Labs’ findings underline the central role played by Trump, his allies, and influential followers in spreading lies about the election results on social media, where eager supporters of the president retweeted his message at high rates and news media picked up each new Trump tweet as fodder for another article. Last year, Twitter tried to curb the misinformation pushed by Trump by adding notices to the president’s tweets when they violated the platform’s policies against spreading election misinformation. On other 240-character presidential missives claiming he won the election in a “landslide,” or accusing the governors of Georgia and Arizona of letting the election be “stolen,” Twitter prevented people from liking or retweeting the messages without attaching their own comment. 

Now, it looks like the social media giants have found something that actually works to stop the spread of lies—at least for now. (Facebook, which says Trump’s account is suspended “indefinitely,” has left the door open to reinstating his account after the end of his term.) While Trump has continued to release tweet-like statements through the White House Office of the Press Secretary, he has yet to acknowledge his loss of the election to President-elect Joe Biden.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate