Fact or fiction: False information sparks conspiracy

Nate Henneke, Staff Writer

A hammer-wielding madman breaking into your home is something every rational human fears. While this scenario sounds outlandish, it recently became a reality for Paul Pelosi, husband of former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. The madman in this case is David DePape, the primary suspect in the skull-fracturing assault on Pelosi. Luckily, police were able to intervene before anything truly tragic happened. Yet the swarm of misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the attack shows that the era of misinformation did not die with Trump’s time in office.

The catalyst for the misinformation and conspiracy theories was a now removed and debunked report from NBC that Pelosi let responding police officers into his home. Newly-surfaced bodycam footage has since shown this to be inaccurate. Based on nothing but an incorrect report, many people online claim that there is something not adding up due to media coverage of the attack. For instance, Elon Musk took to Twitter to tell his fans that “there might be more to this than meets the eye.”

Social media’s ability to spawn misinformation and instill distrust is being exploited to further divide the United States, and the attack on Paul Pelosi is just another example. Misinformation has played a role in politics since its conception, but with the relatively new addition of social media, misinformation has become more dangerous. Misinformation’s role in politics will grow and change alongside the political landscape, but it will always be present.

There will always be a figure like Donald Trump or Alex Jones radicalizing their followers with misinformation, and there will always be followers listening to and believing every word they say. Paul Pelosi was the victim of not only a terrifying attempt at his life but also the victim of social media and misinformation. Until politics can return to being a part of life rather than one’s entire identity, scenarios like this will continue to occur. How can this country claim unity when it is so clearly divided?