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My research breaks down the relationship between social media algorithms, inflammatory rhetoric, and real-life consequences as they apply to the January 6th Capitol Riots. In the weeks after the 2020 Presidential Election, conspiracy theories about electoral fraud spread rapidly in online spaces, eventually materializing into a physical attack to disrupt the Electoral College vote count. In the wake of this assault on democracy, analysis of social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook revealed inept moderation systems and aggressive promotional algorithms. Politicians, commentators, and extremist groups took advantage of the underlying structure of widely used social media platforms to urge Americans to “stop the steal,” often with threatening and violent rhetoric to appeal to basic emotions like anger and fear.



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The Misinformation Pandemic––How Politicians, Commentators, and Extremist Groups Used Social Media to Infect America