“Social media platforms gird for 78 days of disinformation chaos after Election Day; If election results are not known on Election Day, a war of competing narratives on social media could ensue all the way to Inauguration Day”

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Lawmakers and disinformation experts say social media companies must be prepared to confront the likely onslaught of lies and misleading information during that period. 

States holding presidential primaries in the past few months have already seen reporting of results delayed because of an increase in voting by mail. Most states stipulate that counting of mailed ballots cannot begin until Election Day even if they are received days and weeks earlier. 

Such delays in November and potential lawsuits challenging results in some states could leave an information vacuum that could be filled with disinformation, said Graham Brookie, director and managing editor of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which tracks online disinformation. 

“It’s inevitable that we’ll have convoluted election results and it’s inevitable there’ll be a period of time when results are confusing, and it’s not clear what’s going on,” Brookie said. From social media executives to federal, state and local officials, everyone needs to be prepared for “what could happen so they can avoid the information vacuum that’s extremely vulnerable to disinformation.”

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