The conspiracy theories that swirled around the violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband are a prime example of how misinformation fills an information void.
What happened in that case followed a familiar script used by partisan media outlets and personalities, as well as some Republican lawmakers, nationwide.
In Pennsylvania recently, a similar situation played out following the arrest of a Bucks County anti-abortion activist. Reports driven by unproven details about how the arrest occurred have sparked anger on the political right...
Matt Hindman agrees.
He researches political communication at George Washington University. He also authored a report for the Knight Foundation, which found an “ultra-dense core of heavily followed accounts” played a large role in spreading misinformation ahead of the 2016 election.
The messaging from those accounts, Hindman wrote, became “more ostensibly Republican since.”
“Messages are most effective and most persuasive when they are unopposed,” he said. “And it means that much of the political information that citizens are receiving, especially on the right from co-partisans – though not exclusively on the right – ends up being essentially un-vetted.”