Joe Biden has won the U.S. presidential election. But as final vote counts in some states continue, Republican politicians, partisan activists, conspiracy theorists, and others are exploiting public uncertainty and anxiety to attempt to delegitimize the election results.
A growing number of narratives alleging electoral wrongdoing have been spreading on social media, shared through millions of tweets, Facebook posts and TikTok videos, often using hashtags like #riggedelection and #StopTheSteal. These types of narratives rely on “evidence” of ballots that are lost or found after the election, dubious statistics, misleading videos and allegations of foreign interference. People seeking to delegitimize election results are weaving real-world events, such as isolated confrontations with poll workers or broken voting machines, into claims of broader malfeasance by nefarious partisans on one side or the other.
As members of the Election Integrity Partnership and researchers who study online misinformation and disinformation, we have been monitoring social media. We are seeing five types of false and misleading narratives that people are spreading and are likely to spread online, wittingly or not. We urge people to be alert for — and to avoid spreading — the following types of misinformation, which erode trust in the electoral process and in one another.