Biden Disinformation Is Ripping Across Facebook the Same Day It Brushed Him Off

Republicans complain, too, Facebook says nonsensically.

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly via ZUMA Press

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

In advance of the first presidential debate, disinformation about Joe Biden is going massively viral on social media, just one day after the former vice president sent Facebook a letter laying out his campaign’s concerns about political disinformation being spread on its platform.

“Report: Joe Biden Has Been Given Tonight’s Debate Questions In Advance” reads a headline on arch-paranoiac Alex Jones’ site, Infowars, a notorious peddler of right-wing disinformation. The “report” Infowars cited was from former Fox host Todd Starnes, who was just citing Jerome Corsi, a right-wing conspiracy theorist with a history of spreading outright lies. Corsi offered no proof that Biden had been given the questions, but Starnes’ story on the baseless allegation reached over 1 million followers on Facebook and another million on Twitter, according to CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool owned by Facebook.

Infowars published its story around noon. By later that afternoon, more Biden disinformation was hurtling out of control on Facebook. A New York Post story with a single anonymous source from the Trump campaign claimed Biden had agreed to be inspected for an earpiece before the debate, which the Biden campaign denied. Regardless the story spread across Facebook, amplified by right-wing sites and posters.

NBC’s Ben Collins noticed that the claim predated the New York Post story; it had been floating around online for weeks before the online poster at the center of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a user claiming to be Q, posted the theory on 8kun, the successor website to the 8chan forum.

Breitbart‘s story on the claim reached 5 million accounts on Facebook and 3 million on Twitter.

The massive spread of disinformation about Biden came just hours after Facebook essentially blew off Biden’s concerns about disinformation being spread about him.

On Monday, the Biden campaign sent a letter to Facebook calling it “the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process,” and saying that “Rather than seeing progress, we have seen regression,” according to a copy of the letter published by Axios.

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone responded vaguely, saying that the company has received criticism from both Republicans and Democrats and added that “we have rules in place to protect the integrity of the election and free expression, and we will continue to apply them impartially.”

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate