Most of this election’s disinformation is coming directly from the White House — not Russia
President Donald Trump speaks at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (StratosBril /

This year's election has shown less evidence of foreign interference than the 2016 campaign, but experts say President Donald Trump has used some of the same methods to pump misinformation into the political bloodstream.

The president has taken Russia's social media playbook from four years ago and and used his position to amplify those tactics to divide and distort, reported The Guardian.

“I’m sure that there is some foreign influence stuff happening and we might know more about it later,” said Whitney Phillips, a Syracuse University professor who studies online misinformation. “But so much of the pollution is trickling down from the White House itself, and people have been absolutely overwhelmed with falsehoods and confusion over COVID and ballots."

"When people get overwhelmed, they either fight or flee," Phillips added. "[Trump] is making it almost impossible for people not to get totally burned out and disgusted.”

This year's disinformation campaigns are aimed at depressing enthusiasm among Black and Latino voters for the Democratic candidate, just as Russia and the Trump campaign both did in 2016.

“There are groups working to basically remove us from the Democratic party, and tell us a story that matches what we’re going through, speaks our language,” said Shireen Mitchell, a disinformation researcher and founder of Stop Online Violence Against Women.

The online "Blexit" and "Walk Away" campaigns are aimed at peeling off Black votes from Joe Biden, who far-right Latino Facebook pages try to smear as a socialist or communist -- which also works with some Asian voters.

“Older Vietnamese were especially angry about that,” said Thu Quach, an epidemiologist who helped to found anti-disinformation organization Pivot. “It takes a lot of deep work to continue these conversations because it’s so deeply embedded to be anti-communist, and [conservatives] feed off that to paint Biden and Harris as communists.”

Tech platforms have cracked down on some of the tactics Trump and Russia used four years ago, but the president has been able to use the platform that comes with his office to spread lies and undermine confidence in democracy itself.

“The media’s been obsessed with Russians under the bed, but to have the president of the United States telling people in the US that they can’t trust the results of the election," said Claire Wardle, the executive director of anti-disinformation organization First Draft. "Putin could only dream of that kind of thing.”