Misinformation may worsen for Black voters as midterms approach

Political observers say Black voters will be flooded in the lead-up to the November midterm elections

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The midterm elections won’t take place until November but misinformation targeting Black voters is expected to intensify in the coming months. 

As reported by NBC News, members of Congress have been warned by political experts that voters of color will be hit the hardest by the “increasing number of disinformation campaigns.” 

Black Voters Matter Group Gathers In Selma For March To Montgomery
Marchers lead chants during the Black Voters Matter’s 57th Selma to Montgomery march on March 09, 2022, in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

During a virtual hearing of the House Administration subcommittee on elections, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said Thursday that the misinformation machine “has been weaponized and targeted at communities of color by racist and anti-democratic actors who seek to intimidate voters of color and discourage them from participating in the democratic process.” 

Butterfield, who chairs the subcommittee, added, “Voters of color are targeted with disinformation narratives specifically designed to appeal to each community’s concerns in ways that will alienate voters and suppress turnout.” 

Joi Chaney, executive director of the National Urban League’s Washington D.C. bureau, also testified Thursday that “these disinformation attacks on Black communities are also a broader attack on our democracy and a threat to the national security of this nation,” according to the report. 

Butterfield called the misinformation movement a “threat to our democracy and the free, fair and equitable access to the ballot every voter is entitled to.” 

The FBI confirmed that both Iran and Russia interfered in the 2020 election, per The Associated Press. U.S. intelligence officials also claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered interference in the 2016 election that brought Donald Trump to the White House, theGrio reported.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference states that “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.”

According to NBC News, one of the tactics used by disinformation agents included posing as Black influencers on social media and targeting Black and Latino voters on Facebook and Twitter with the message “avoid the line — vote from home. Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925.”

Members of Congress heard testimony last week from voting rights groups that communities of color, including immigrants, will be flooded with disinformation in the lead-up to the November midterm elections. One way to combat this is through “comprehensive privacy legislation with provisions that limit the amount of data companies can collect that could inevitably prevent bad actors from using that data to nefariously target Black communities,” Chaney said.

She said there must be a “whole of government” and “whole of nation” effort to push back against disinformation campaigns. She also urged social media companies to be more proactive with curbing disinformation on a daily basis and not just during election periods.

“Without some standards, implications of this technology for our elections, for our legal system, for our democracy, for rules of evidence, for our entire social order are frightening and profound,” former President Barack Obama said about misinformation during a speech at Stanford University last month, according to the report. 

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