Biden Disinformation Is Ripping Across Facebook the Same Day It Brushed Him Off

Republicans complain, too, Facebook says nonsensically.

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

In advance of the first presidential debate, disinformation about Joe Biden is going massively viral on social media, just one day after the former vice president sent Facebook a letter laying out his campaign’s concerns about political disinformation being spread on its platform.

“Report: Joe Biden Has Been Given Tonight’s Debate Questions In Advance” reads a headline on arch-paranoiac Alex Jones’ site, Infowars, a notorious peddler of right-wing disinformation. The “report” Infowars cited was from former Fox host Todd Starnes, who was just citing Jerome Corsi, a right-wing conspiracy theorist with a history of spreading outright lies. Corsi offered no proof that Biden had been given the questions, but Starnes’ story on the baseless allegation reached over 1 million followers on Facebook and another million on Twitter, according to CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool owned by Facebook.

Infowars published its story around noon. By later that afternoon, more Biden disinformation was hurtling out of control on Facebook. A New York Post story with a single anonymous source from the Trump campaign claimed Biden had agreed to be inspected for an earpiece before the debate, which the Biden campaign denied. Regardless the story spread across Facebook, amplified by right-wing sites and posters.

NBC’s Ben Collins noticed that the claim predated the New York Post story; it had been floating around online for weeks before the online poster at the center of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a user claiming to be Q, posted the theory on 8kun, the successor website to the 8chan forum.

Breitbart‘s story on the claim reached 5 million accounts on Facebook and 3 million on Twitter.

The massive spread of disinformation about Biden came just hours after Facebook essentially blew off Biden’s concerns about disinformation being spread about him.

On Monday, the Biden campaign sent a letter to Facebook calling it “the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process,” and saying that “Rather than seeing progress, we have seen regression,” according to a copy of the letter published by Axios.

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone responded vaguely, saying that the company has received criticism from both Republicans and Democrats and added that “we have rules in place to protect the integrity of the election and free expression, and we will continue to apply them impartially.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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