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The future of online disinformation following Trump’s departure

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss what Trump’s departure will mean for disinformation online.

Video Transcript

- And Dan, just pivoting a bit to look more broadly at tech, and online tech giants specifically. We're now a couple of days into the new Biden administration. What does Trump's departure mean when it comes to online disinformation and its prevalence, and how it's going to be handled going forward?

DAN HOWLEY: Yes, sorry, I did this piece on misinformation, disinformation online, disinformation being purposeful, false information, misinformation being accidental misinformation. So a lot of people obviously talking about Trump's ban from Twitter. There was a study from [? Zinko ?] Labs saying that election disinformation had fallen around 70-something percent after Trump and his allies were taken off the platform, or de-platformed on other services as well, and that's a big change. But by no means does Trump leaving office, or being taken on social media, mean that disinformation, misinformation will stop spreading.

And a lot of experts that I spoke to said it simply comes down to educating the public as to what is true and what is not. There seems to be this kind of reality distortion field that we're living in, where truth doesn't matter and people have their own opinions, and that seems to supersede the truth. But experts I spoke to at Carnegie Mellon and MIT were basically saying, look, we have to give the public a better understanding of what the truth is and reinforce belief in institutions like government entities, and like universities and colleges and scientific organizations, to ensure that people recognize the truth when they see it.

And a lot of it comes down to seemingly either people being lazy and wanting to retweet things quickly without reading them, and that's where disinformation, misinformation can be spread. As well as people not going past the headline-- that seems to be another issue. Twitter and Facebook have introduced issues or capabilities there to make people read a little bit more,. But then on the flip side, people may see labels that call something incorrect and then automatically start to think that anything that's not labeled is correct.

So it's very strange. It's, it's a bigger problem than just Trump and the election.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and it's obviously a bipartisan issue. We've seen Republicans and Democrats stress that heading into the new administration as well. But Dan Howley, I appreciate you coming on here to chat.