Spreading The Big Lie: How Social Media Sites Have Amplified False Claims of U.S. Election Fraud

Spreading the Big Lie
September 2022
As the 2022 midterms approach, falsehoods about election fraud continue to spread via social media.

The Big Lie that Joseph Biden did not legitimately win the presidency in 2020 has mutated into a forward-looking belief among many Republicans that American democracy more generally no longer functions fairly. In the minds of the most ardent believers, political opponents — Democrats — must be stopped by any means necessary, including the sort of violence unleashed at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Social media companies have promised to protect the upcoming midterm elections from mis- and disinformation, but their flawed policies and inconsistent enforcement result in the continued amplification of election denialism, especially in key battleground states, like Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

The consequences of election denialism spreading online are grave.

If even a handful of Republican deniers are elected this year to state offices that oversee presidential elections — such as governor and secretary of state — the 2024 process could descend into chaos and violence, making the events of 2020 – 2021 seem tame by comparison.

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