World News – AU – For Latinos, the fight against election disinformation often starts at home


Lies fly hard and fast in Spanish and English, each more specious than the next, all designed to influence Latino voters nationwide during this controversial election season

Joe Biden is no better than a Latin American dictator (He’s the one the Democrat refers to President Trump) The Black Lives Matter protests are all violent (They’ve been largely peaceful) The vote mail order is riddled with fraud (It isn’t) Pandemic is a hoax (Over 225,000 people have died in the US)

Disinformation pervades TV, radio and social media It has permeated Latin American communities, pitted family members against each other, pushed young Latinos to defuse themselves from their parents on Facebook, and pushed voters tired of quitting WhatsApp group chats

In this acrimonious political season, when insults are hurled from left and right, much of the disinformation targeted at Latino voters and aimed at overthrowing the presidential election has been targeted at Biden and spread by the Trump campaign and supporters of the president, said Eduardo Gamarra, a professor of politics at Florida International University who has followed disinformation in South Florida

Some organizers fear disinformation will escalate as election day draws closer, particularly in Florida, a fixture state for Trump’s re-election efforts, with a sizable core of Latino voters

Gabriella Crespo, whose parents live in St Petersburg, has seen her Cuban-American father increasingly embrace far-right conspiracy theories, such as Democrats trafficking children through an underground network Crespo described him as one of « QAnon’s outer reaches » She described her father as having called the Black Lives Matter protesters « rioters » who were « violent and racist towards whites » and said he was arguing with his friends on Facebook Crespo tried to share facts with him privately, and he didn’t respond

In June Crespo defused him and they spent most of the summer not talking. He’s currently on his second Facebook ban for sharing disinformation, she said.

« It’s hard to tell someone, ‘Look, all the places you get your news are bogus’, » Crespo said

Two members of Congress wrote to FBI Director Christopher A Wray last month, asking him to investigate the origins of the disinformation flooding South Florida and consider the efforts of foreign actors trying to to sow distrust in the electoral process among Latinos Disinformation campaigns have also targeted black voters, particularly in 2016, in an attempt to suppress their votes

« These posts are often politically charged and contain far-right conspiracy theories relating to ‘QAnon’ or other fringe ideologies designed to manipulate Latino voters, » Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wrote, noting that ideas have surfaced in mainstream media

To combat the flood of lies, grassroots Latino affinity groups that back the Democratic ticket have become Biden campaign surrogates on radio talk shows to correct the toll Some activists counter online disinformation; other advocacy groups have initiated programs and group discussions and offered guides on « how to tell your family about disinformation »

When protests erupted across the country after the police murder of George Floyd, Adrian Reyna’s mother, who lives in Texas, texted him and asked if he was in the process of « loot » « Reyna, a Seattle resident, pointed out that the photos she was sharing were not taken in the city

« It’s pretty sad how much I have lost my family to this misinformation online, to the point that my own parents are appalled at me, » said Reyna, director of strategy for United We Dream Action « My relationship with my parents is not the same anymore, and I attribute it 100% to the fact that they have become so bombarded on social media »

United We Dream Action, an immigrant rights group, has launched ‘Reclaim the Web’, a bilingual program via WhatsApp in which organizers share TikTok memes and videos Some of the content explains that early voting is a safe method to vote and cites study showing protests against racial injustice have been largely peaceful

« There have been many attempts to link the Black Lives Matter movement with violence, » one post read « Protests are a real path to societal change »

There are « bad actors » running far-right Latino Facebook pages and Instagram accounts that coordinate and amplify disinformation, said Jacobo Licona, senior disinformation researcher at Equis Research, a Latino polling company -American Often Spanish content outlasts its English counterpart, allowing the spread of lies to continue unhindered

« It’s happening everywhere, » Licona said In Arizona, Colorado and Texas, conservative Latino influencers have encouraged misinformation about mail voting, he said, and non-partisan accounts have been pushing up anti-black narratives during Black Lives Matter protests, linking racial justice movement to left-wing violence

« Their intention, and this is the fear for many, is that these accounts create fear and mistrust, especially about voting, » Licona said

A Spanish-language Trump campaign ad on Miami-area Mix 98 radio station3 FM depicted Democrats as « puppets of the radical left, a gang that prefers lawlessness and chaos »

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“You came to this country to live a calm and secure life, a prosperous life,” said speaker “Joe Biden is kneeling in the face of violence and putting your future and that of your family in danger”

Members of the Cubanos con Biden Facebook group, which has more than 13,000 members, created a slide show to check the facts « How to talk to your Cuban family about the election », says one slide « Yes, it can be do « 

Another slide calls the claim that Biden is a socialist or a communist « will lie Trumpista » (Trump lie)

No, the slideshow says, Biden – a longtime centrist – is not beholden to Democratic Socialists Sen Bernie Sanders of Vermont or Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-No) Experts have pointed out that the Socialists’ comparison Democrats in the US to totalitarians in Latin America is a false equivalence and aims to sow fear among people who have fled authoritarian regimes like those in Cuba or Venezuela

Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, called Biden’s attempt to distance himself from Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez platforms as « a real campaign of disinformation »

Experts say the impact of disinformation on voters is difficult to measure, but signs of its reach are most visible in South Florida, where claims that Biden is a socialist are ubiquitous

At Centro Comercial Managua in Sweetwater, a Nicaraguan American who refused to give his name said he thought Biden was « extremely left »

« Neither one of them represents me, » the 73-year-old said of the candidates. « Then I will exercise my right not to vote »

Some Florida Latinos have endorsed false claims that Biden takes people’s guns and dissolves the police – lies amplified by the Trump campaign And in WhatsApp group chats, videos are circulating featuring right-wing armed groups , with a Spanish-speaking narrator claiming they were protecting the country from communists (Right-wing extremists were arrested in plots to kidnap and kill elected officials and stir up civil unrest)

« People are starting to repeat known disinformation messages to you as if they were gospel truth, » said Fernand Amandi, a Democratic pollster in Miami

On a recent Sunday, a section of cars in a Democratic trailer was decorated with Biden-Harris and other signs that read: « 100% anti-comunista 100% anti-racist 100% anti-fascist 100% with Biden « 

« You support socialism, » one pro-Trump supporter shouted from the sidewalk towards the cars Another used a microphone to shout « Comunistas sin vergüenza » (Communists without shame) They told other Latinos to return to their country Between them they noticed that the cars were probably going in circles to give the appearance of a larger caravan (It was not)

Maria Lourdes Naranjo almost screamed hoarse with her cries of « USA » The 58-year-old woman, who arrived from Cuba 35 years ago, said she thought Democrats were going too far to the left

« I can’t vote for a man who says he wants to make everything free like they did in my country, » she said, waving a giant American flag « I’m not a communist « 

Biden, whose policy is not to make everything free, scoffed at the Trump campaign’s description of him as an extremist

When asked recently on CBS’s « 60 Minutes » if she wanted to promote a « progressive or socialist » perspective on Biden, her running mate Sen Kamala Harris laughed, « No, that’s the point of view of a woman who grew up with a black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, ”she said, adding that she supported Biden’s more moderate policies Biden pointed out that he had ‘beaten the socialist’ – Sanders – in major contests, and his campaign ran ads depicting Trump as an authoritarian leader

Frances Colón, State Director for Latino Voting at Florida for All, said the coalition is working with other affinity groups to customize fact-verified content for Latinos of different backgrounds and religions

« More of this bogus, crazy content is coming in by election day, » Colón said, « and the more proactive we can be, the more prepared we are for the assault »

Some Latinos managed to talk to their friends and family Raymond E Adderly III, a Cubanos con Biden volunteer, said his neighbor, an 80-year-old Cuban American, once asked him if Biden was a socialist who wanted to dissolve the police

No, he told her, Trump’s cuts have actually cut budgets for police departments, and Biden is not a socialist She listened, he said

J Walter Tejada, of Virginia, said his mother came to see him after watching a video that downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, questioning the origins of the coronavirus and saying the president was blameless in his response So Tejada, former chairman of Arlington County Council and founder of the Virginia Latino Leaders Council, watched the video

« Everything they said was totally wrong, » said Tejada His mother is predominantly Spanish speaking and does not check most of what she sees online, he said Now when she has questions she asks him He said his mother consulted him before voting in the early poll in Virginia

As part of a National Disinformation Awareness Week on Thursday, United We Dream will provide a healing space to share stories about the fractures that election lies have created within families and the means to there. face

« What you are seeing is a lot of people are losing their family and friends to conspiracy theories, » said Meghna Mahadevan, chief disinformation defense strategist for the organization. « It is really painful to feel this extreme dissonance of values ​​with your loved ones »

Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Democratic Party

World News – AU – For Latinos, the fight against election disinformation often begins at home



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