Disinformation Squad Braces for Flood of Election Day Falsehoods
(Bloomberg) -- One of the reasons today’s election is historic is the number of eyes watching social media, attempting to identify or counter disinformation campaigns, particularly those that could affect voter turnout -- a critical factor that could help decide races up and down the ballot.
Among those watching is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has set up a virtual Election Day war room. From there, they’re monitoring Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and providing information about false posts to both the platforms and to House candidates.
The DCCC is on high alert for claims targeting minorities with false information about how to vote, according to Ben Block, who leads the DCCC’s digital rapid-response team. Similar falsehoods circulated in 2016, and there have been examples of that in the 2020 election as well.
The Democratic National Committee is also monitoring disinformation related to voter suppression during a presidential election in which high turnout will be critical. A representative for the National Republican Congressional Committee didn’t respond to an email seeking comment on whether they were seeing a similar trend.
Some falsehoods are spreading through mediums that can’t easily be tracked by disinformation analysts such as Block. For example, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found “voter suppression-like messages, and other disinformation-laden or misleading texts” targeting voters in recent months, according to a report on the subject.
Democrats have responded to disinformation in part by providing information about voting in Facebook Inc. advertisements. However, as soon as the polls close today -- a period after which the DCCC is preparing to tackle falsehoods about election rigging and election fraud -- Facebook will ban political ads for a period of time, not yet specified.
While Block believes Republicans will be able to communicate with voters on social media through President Donald Trump’s accounts following the advertising blackout, Democrats are looking to non-advertising methods to compete with the presidential microphone. This includes working with high-profile individuals and grassroots organizers who have the ability to reach different groups of Americans on their social-media feeds.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.