Alex Stamos, director of Stanford Internet Observatory discusses domestic disinformation in the US Presidential Election

LISBON, Portugal, Dec. 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ —

  • According to Alex Stamos, director of Stanford Internet Observatory, along with the usual election disinformation tactics – trying to mislead voters on the mechanics of casting their ballot, or trying to discourage them from voting altogether – this year’s US presidential election saw a new phenomenon: people attempting to call into question the election results.
  • Stamos, formerly Facebook’s chief security officer,  said that, overall, social media platforms did a better job at preventing foreign disinformation on their sites than they did during the 2016 election. Comparing them head to head this time around, Stamos said YouTube  was “probably the most problematic”, with the least comprehensive policies around election disinformation.
  • Speaking at 100,000-attendee online conference Web Summit, Stamos is part of a line-up that includes European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, tennis great Serena Williams and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Compared to the 2016 US presidential election, social media platforms did much better at preventing foreign disinformation  during this year’s election cycle. The bigger problem was domestic disinformation, said Alex Stamos, director at Stanford Internet Observatory.

Even though platforms improved, Stamos – who was Facebook’s chief security officer until 2018 – said that YouTube was the most problematic platform.

“The largest influencers get the least amount of enforcement, and we need to invert that,” he said.

Stamos’s comments came during  an interview with Eizabeth Dwoskin, Silicon Valley correspondent at the Washington Post, during the 100,000-attendee Web Summit.

Elaborating on YouTube’s challenges this election cycle, Stamos pointed out that influencers livestreamed far more than four years ago. Live video is especially hard to fact-check in a meaningful way, especially when influencers tried to erroneously claim election victory for Trump while votes were still being counted.

“Some of these people have live audiences that approach the daytime viewership of CNN, so you’re talking about YouTube effectively operating as a cable network,” he said.

Famously – and…