Social Media, Politics, and the Age of Misinformation

Carson Beasley, Staff Columnist

A recent major development in politics is the scandal surrounding George Santos, a Republican congressman-elect in New York. Investigations into his background shortly after the midterm elections by the New York Times revealed major discrepancies in his background, ranging from his employment at Citigroup, and even a degree he claimed to have obtained at Baruch College.

Recently, George Santos has had even more controversies, which even included him lying about his mother being in New York on 9/11 and having a criminal history in Brazil. He has been outed with all of these lies, but he still has his claim to his congressional position. More and more opposition has come against his false backgrounds as he admitted partially to misinforming the public while still denying claims of a criminal background and stating that, “To get down to the nit and gritty, I’m not a fraud. I’m not a criminal who defrauded the entire country and made up this fictional character and ran for Congress. I’ve been around a long time. I mean, a lot of people know me. They know who I am. They’ve done business dealings with me,” which was taken during an interview on WABC Radio with The New York Post.

His almost entirely bogus resume is fitting in line with a new wave of misinformation and the obscuration of the truth. In a technological age with constant social media access and almost limitless contact with outside information, the efforts by charlatans similar to George Santos, and their attempts to misguide the public, keeps escalating.

The youth are affected particularly by this escalation of misinformation. Since young people are now often in constant contact with media sources that are made by individuals, there is an increasing likelihood that those with agendas to misguide can have heightened virality in online spaces. This is uniquely different from the George Santos scandal because the fraudulence of Santos’s claims are much easier to debunk individually than innumerable accounts online that spread equally false and dangerous misinformation.

In the modern day, misinformation has overtaken information restriction. In the past, when groups wanted to misinform, they would destroy pathways to the truth and leave only themselves as an option. Now, with the advent of the internet and interconnected social media platforms, groups with bad intentions have resorted to infiltrating and hiding within platforms, hoping they can hook unsuspecting users into webs of lies.

Young people are now the most avid users of social media, which creates an obligation to themselves and others to curate the information they consume, and truly question whether or not what they are being told is the truth.