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State elections officials say they’re seeing an uptick in a new kind of social media-fueled danger to US midterms: online anger that threatens to spill over into real-world violence.

In Arizona, online conspiracy theories resulted in so many harassing phone calls to the secretary of state’s office, employees had to take a break from answering. In Michigan, officials have seen such a flood of violent rhetoric online that this week they sent letters to tech company CEOs pleading with them to do more to control their platforms. In Maine, a state where Election Day is associated with patriotic pie-eating, a poll worker last year received a credible death threat on Facebook.

Bloomberg reached out to all 50 secretaries of state and spoke with representatives of 12 offices, from Texas to Hawaii. All of those who commented said they’ve seen an increase in online suspicion about the electoral process, which in many states has led to threats for staff or poll workers and resignations of these crucial employees.

Narratives that drove the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, such as false claims of voter fraud, have lingered online. The chatter escalated most during primaries in states that had close contests in 2020 or where former US President Donald Trump backed candidates for office. Social media platforms have ramped up their election-related security measures, adding channels for state governments to report posts more directly. But rules on misinformation and harassing content are applied inconsistently, if at all, the officials said.

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One thought on “States Are Bracing for Social Media-Enabled Election Violence”
  1. You people are unbelievable – an article so full of lies, only the current sanctioned ‘fact-checkers’ could give it a tick of integrity. To those with an eye for it, you and all the other fact-checkers are in fact the LIARS.

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