Thursday, 17 September 2020

Lying to Win. How Trump is Fooling Americans

Figure 3. Republicans are far more easily fooled than Democrats
Observatory on Social Media (OSoMe): Reports: Research: The Media School: Indiana University Bloomington

The results of an Indiana University poll, published today, show how successful the disinformation and fake news campaigns by the Trump camp have been in fooling Americans into believing falsehoods.

Indiana University have set up a media monitoring team to fact-check narratives widely-circulating in the social media. This report is Wave 1 conducted between 20th Aug- 7th Sep 2020.
Figure 2. A significan number of Americans believe the false stories


For the first wave, we selected five narratives through a deliberative process of monitoring issues that were becoming relevant in the weeks leading up to data collection and using tools developed by OSoMe to look at the diffusion of narratives across social media.

We showed respondents a screenshot from social media that represented a trending narrative. We asked: “Have you encountered this, or similar stories about this issue, on social media or the internet?” In addition to asking whether respondents had seen the story, we asked, about each story: “To what extent do you believe the following statement is true?”

The statements were:
Joe Biden is not mentally fit to be President.1
Kamala Harris is not a natural-born US citizen.2
Dr. Anthony Fauci funded a lab in Wuhan to develop the coronavirus.3
Joe Biden’s family has illegal business ties with China.4
Mail-in ballots cause election fraud.5


Our results show that large segments of the population have encountered these narratives through media exposure, and find them plausible. For example, 78.9% of participants in our survey were aware of at least one of these five stories, whereas only 21.1% had not heard about any of them. It is also worth noting that a majority (61.1%) believe at least one of the five narratives; 38.9% do not believe any of them


The five stories were not equally known or believed among the participants. Figure 2 shows that the Kamala Harris birther narrative was one of the two most widely known (54.7% aware), having been frequently covered during the survey period, but also the least believed (27.7%). Mail-in votes causing voter fraud was the most believed narrative (46.4%), and was as widely known as the Harris narrative. In two of the five narratives, the number of participants who believed the stories was more than the number who reported to have encountered them online. For example, 46.1% of participants believed that Joe Biden is cognitively compromised, whereas 43.1% reported that they had seen the story.

The report includes the following links to fact-checking sources which debunked these claims.
  1. Joe Biden's mental fitness:
  2. Kamala Haris' elegibility for VP/POTUS:
  3. Fouci funded the lab in Wuhan to make the virus:
  4. Joe Biden's family and "illegal business ties" with China
  5. Mail-in ballots and election fraud.
Having lied his way to power and lied about almost everything while in office, is it any surprise that this most dishonest of people will try the same again to get re-elected? With a large nunmber of predominantly white, evangelical Christians now unable to admit they backed a failure last time, there is a high probability that they will do all they can to spread Trump's lies and disinformation as widely and forcefully as possible this time.

The question is, will enough Americans be fooled by it this time?

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