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

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of 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.

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

payment methods

THIS IS BIG FOR US.

And we won't beat around the bush: Our fundraising drive to finish our current budget on June 30 and start our new fiscal year on July 1 is lagging behind where we need it to be.

If you value the reporting you get from Mother Jones and you can right now, please consider joining your fellow readers with a donation to help make it all possible. Whether you can pitch in $5 or $500, it all matters.

If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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