Researchers have assessed the effect of mass Twitter bans after January 6 riots in the US. 

A significant decrease in misinformation on Twitter, now known as X, followed the deplatforming of former US President Donald Trump and approximately 70,000 accounts after the January 6, 2021, violence at the US Capitol. 

This finding was reported by an international team of researchers who analysed the behaviour of nearly 600,000 US-based Twitter users.

The study revealed that 1,361 users, representing 0.25 per cent of the analysed panel, were removed from Twitter shortly after the insurrection. 

This small subset was responsible for 4.35 per cent of the overall misinformation on the platform and nearly 25 per cent of the misinformation shared within the studied group.

Following the account suspensions, there was an observed average daily reduction of 103 tweets containing misinformation URLs, based on data from June 2020 to January 2021. 

Additionally, users who had followed these deplatformed accounts demonstrated a noticeable decline in retweeting misinformation.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, underscore the potential for social media platforms to mitigate the spread of misinformation through strategic deplatforming. 

“The reduction in misinformation appears to be directly linked to the deplatforming actions taken by Twitter,” says David Lazer, a lead researcher on the study.

This research adds to the ongoing discussion about the role of social media platforms in regulating speech and combating misinformation. 

While the study focuses on a specific event and user base, it highlights the broader implications for managing misinformation on social media. 

The researchers caution that these results are specific to the US context and the unique circumstances surrounding the January 6 events, suggesting that further research is necessary to generalise these findings to other contexts and platforms.

The researchers say their study provides valuable insights into how targeted interventions by social media companies can effectively reduce the dissemination of false information, and contribute to a more informed public discourse.