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On this episode of Democracy Is, we embark on a thought-provoking exploration of the intricate challenges posed by misinformation and disinformation in our digital age. How are social media algorithms weaponized to alter election outcomes? Continuing our journey, we navigate the ever-shifting terrain of social media regulation and privacy reform. How are policies evolving to address the growing concerns surrounding disparate access to information and user privacy? How has digital policy evolved to promote the ethical sharing of information online?

We’re privileged to feature exclusive interviews with Nora Benavidez, Senior Counsel of Free Press, and Jinxia Niu, Program Manager of Chinese for Affirmative Action. Together, we navigate the nuanced landscape of misinformation and disinformation, exploring policies and strategies crucial for building a resilient democracy.

Listen here!

Our Guests this Episode

Jinxia Niu is the program manager of the Chinese Digital Engagement at Chinese for Affirmative Action(CAA), where she manages the Chinese-language fact-checking website Piyaoba and multiple WeChat accounts. Jinxia has 10 years of experience in Chinese media writing and editing. She is the author of two technology and society books in Chinese and was previously a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Peace Innovation Lab.

Nora Benavidez is the Senior Counsel and Director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights Free Press. She leads the organization’s democracy and digital civil rights initiatives, including its policy and campaign efforts to blunt disinformation, hate, and other manipulation online while protecting digital civil rights, privacy, and free speech. She has testified before Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, and other regulatory bodies. She was the lead author of Free Press’ original research report Empty Promises, examining the role social media platforms play in elections.

Previously, she served as Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs at PEN America, guiding its national advocacy agenda on First Amendment and free expression issues. She led the organization’s victorious and groundbreaking First Amendment lawsuit, PEN America v. Donald Trump, to hold the former president accountable for his retaliation and censorship of speech he disliked. She also launched and led PEN America’s media literacy and disinformation defense program and was the lead author of several original PEN America reports on fundamental rights, including Arresting Dissent and Closing Ranks.

Her writing and commentary has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, CNN, Rolling Stone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and elsewhere. She previously also worked in private practice and at the ACLU of Georgia, litigating significant cases representing victims of voting rights violations, unconstitutional police practices, and other First Amendment infringements. (@attorneynora)

Episode Details

Common Cause Resources

Continued Education

The following are our staff's recommendations if you'd like to continue learning about media and democracy.

Resource Centers



  • Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble
  • Automatic Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks

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