How Politicians Use Your Social Media Data & How to Combat False or Misleading Information Before the Election

Since the first Obama presidential campaign, social media experts have assumed major roles in shaping political communication. Social media has proved effective to influence voters’ perceptions, beliefs, and decisions. Unfortunately, significant amounts of information spread through Internet platforms have generated false, misleading and dangerous claims, images, and fabricated news.

Studies conducted at such credible institutions as University of Florida confirm that growth of social media influences an increasingly wide range of individuals and groups. Every day millions of people rely upon reports, news articles, and opinions broadcast by social media platforms. The quality of information varies widely from reliably factual reporting to rumored conspiracies parading as unvarnished truth.

As the November 2020 election approaches amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and increased isolation of individuals has enhanced the influence of social media as principal sources of information.

What can be done and by whom to reduce the influence of false and dangerous information on social media? A natural temptation is to create and impose new government regulations to restrain and discipline political social media.

Beginning with testimony by Mark Jamison, Ph.D., the director and Gerald Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at the University of Florida, to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, the following analysis discusses how politicians use your social media data. The analysis also offers numerous alternative recommendations other than new governmental regulations to address the spread of unreliable and deliberately false information over time.

Read the complete white paper online.