On September 9, Peter Hamby (C ‘03), host of Snapchat’s “Good Luck America,” and Jenna Lowenstein (C ’09), Deputy Campaign Manager for Cory Booker’s 2020 Presidential Campaign and Digital Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign, joined GU Politics for a discussion about social media and elections moderated by Issie Lapowsky, a senior reporter for Protocol covering politics and technology.
This event, the second in a joint series with the McCourt School’s Massive Data Institute (MDI), featured Computer Science and MDI Professor Lisa Singh and University of Michigan Professor Ceren Budak. The panelists delved into research and field experience to uncover how disinformation spreads on social media and how this phenomenon affects our elections.
Singh, who co-authored “Words That Matter” with Budak, identified several key findings from their research. Among these, Singh noted Trump’s ability to use social media to drive home consistent messaging about his opponents while deflecting negative attention from himself. Ceren added that while disinformation may not have had a large impact on the 2016 election, but “as people are consuming news more and more online, [disinformation] is going to become a larger issue” with regard to elections.
Hamby explained that generating outrage over policies is part of Trump’s strategy for generating support. He noted how the proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico was “new, outrageous, and policy, and it got covered and that was a big advantage for Trump. Singh concluded that going into 2020, few scandals “stick” to Trump, though this could change as Election Day draws nearer.