Researchers recommend verifying info online during election

Posted at 11:16 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 23:25:07-05

TAMPA, Fla. — While many navigate the election, they’re also wading through all the information that’s out there, including on social media.

The information may be constant, but not all of it may have the same level of trust.

“One thing researchers have seen during this election cycle is a marked kind of emphasis on strategic disinformation campaigns that are targeted at particular groups of individuals,” said Joshua Scacco, Ph.D., an associate professor of political communications at the University of South Florida.

He said a common feature is an ease with which falsehoods are shared and spread in online spaces.

“Social media right now is an accelerate to both intentional disinformation as well as unintentional misinformation about the voting and the vote-counting process,” he said.

He recommends people verify claims with credible outlets, make sure the information is sourced by a credible source and that it’s current.

“Individuals need to exercise caution in these spaces. Just because the information seems too good to be true doesn’t mean it actually is true. You want to verify information you want to make sure sources are credible you wanna make sure the information is current as well,” Scacco said.

A USF survey conducted before the election found more than half of Floridians said they relied on Facebook at least a little for information about the election, yet that still most didn’t trust the information.

“I think it’s played a really big role and social media as it has evolved over the years has played an even bigger role especially among certain age groups for example 18-29 year olds, I think is the age group that showed up in record numbers this election cycle, and that is probably an age group that’s getting a lot of their information on these candidates from social media,” said ABC Action News political analyst Ron Pierce.

Pierce noted how candidates are using social media to talk to voters.

“A lot of campaigns are using text to communicate with voters as well but I think social media and digital marketing is a big part of that,” he said.