Twitter and Facebook have temporarily blocked US President Donald Trump's accounts according to media reports, and Dr Eric Jensen of the Department of Sociology has commented on why the social media giants have taken this action now.
Dr Eric Jensen said: "Fake news and misinformation spreading through social media are urgent concerns globally, and having the most powerful person in the world spreading dangerous false narratives clearly has taken the issue to a new level.
"We can see in this case an orchestrated effort to weaponize misinformation to undermine people’s ability to separate fact from fiction in the US election context, and these social media companies based in the US are under enormous pressure to limit the damage.
"For commercial reasons, social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google (e.g. via Youtube) have historically been slow to assertively deal with misinformation and reluctant to censor powerful political figures such as the US President. Their platforms have been major drivers for conspiracy thinking and misinformation, as their algorithms feed people more and more fringe content once someone stumbles on the first piece of appealing false information.
"As political pressure in the United States is set to continue ratcheting up under the new Biden Administration and Democrat-controlled Congress, social media companies have begun a more serious (albeit imperfect) effort to start to curb the spread of misinformation on their platforms. The moves today certainly look to be socially responsible steps to reduce the current heightened tensions and civic unrest stoked by President Trump."
7 January 2020
Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics)
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