Dianne Lugo, Staff
Four years ago, the Russian government used Twitter bots, Facebook pages and Instagram posts to launch a massive misinformation campaign to interfere in the 2016 U.S election. These Russian operatives, working for the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency specifically targeted African Americans according to the final Senate committee report released earlier this year.
“No single group of Americans was targeted by IRA information operatives more than African Americans. By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016,” the report said.
Now, it appears someone is employing similar tactics to mislead Latino and Black voters this election.
Once again Black voters have become the primary target of disinformation efforts, although it’s not as clear if the Russians are to blame.
In a report from NPR, it appears messages are hoping to encourage apathy among Black voters in an effort to dissuade them from heading to the polls.
“Democrats and Republicans are the same. There’s no point in voting,” one post read.
This year, Latinos have also become a massive target as they become the largest non-white voting block in 2020. There will be 32 million eligible Latino voters this year, just slightly more than the 30 million voters who are Black. And unfortunately, some of the more harmful messages spread on social media appear to be trying to pit Latino and Black voters against one another, according to the New York Times.
“They feed into real fears, about the pandemic, about socialism and exploiting potential gaps within communities, between the Black community and the Latino community,” said Jacobo Licona to the New York Times. Licona studies misinformation for Equis Labs, a liberal-leaning Latino research group.
To combat this, both Latino and Black activists have launched campaigns to protect and spread awareness about misinformation being spread online, warning voters about the more obvious signs of fake accounts and groups and about being more careful about what they share online.