, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
This is a really provocative and tantalizing hot take. But it doesn't hold water.


tl;dr: Enough with the "sky is falling" misinfo narrative. Masses of previously unengaged citizens aren't suddenly becoming hyper-partisan shills thanks to the spread of misinformation
Let's parse the argument a bit

1) On the first claim: no research that I've seen suggests that there are more misinformed citizens than at any time in the past. Propaganda, political rumors, and just plain wrong-headedness have been around since time immemorial.
2) The second point, that misinfo drives people to vote is more plausible, but still tricky. The opposite is just as--and maybe even more--plausible: ie, those who are very politically active are more likely to encounter and believe misinformation.
(See, for example, the recent findings that @andyguess and colleagues have been sharing about the very limited number of *already highly partisan* Americans who visit websites known for spreading disinformation.)
In other words, highly committed, politically active citizens may be drawn to ideologically congruent misinfo, but that misinfo isn't necessarily making them more active.
The latter (misinfo --> political engagement) is certainly possible. And the two may feed into and reinforce one another (misinfo <--> engagement). But we don't have enough long-term research tracking people over time to know with much certainty.
3) The combination of these two claims though--the idea that misinfo is suddenly turning lots of uninterested and disengaged citizens into extreme partisan ideologues who are, in turn, running out to vote--is simply implausible.
Voter turnout in 2016 doesn't support that conclusion. Overall voter share was close to both 2012 and 2008.
And though 2018 midterm election turnout was the highest in a century--50.4% vs 36.7% in 2014 and 41.8% in 2010--something tells me Klaas wouldn't argue that the 2018 vote was driven by misinformed conspiracy theorists. 🤔
Plus, think about why people disengage. Things like lack of time and resources, discomfort w the messiness of politics, etc. haven't changed. Sure, the drama and entertainment value of our current political moment may draw some in. But it's also turning a lot of people away.
In other words, those already pre-disposed to disengage from politics may be even more likely to withdraw now. Few are suddenly going to become hyper-partisan, conspiracy-spewing voters.
While I'm not arguing that misinfo is entirely inconsequential, I've grown incredibly weary of these breathless hot takes. #my2cents
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