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Voting & Elections 04.23.2022

Associated Press: In election misinformation fight, ’2020 changed everything’

The voting advocacy group Common Cause will rely on thousands of volunteers like Bowers to identify misinformation floating around online and push for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to take down the most egregious falsehoods. False claims about voting times, locations or eligibility, for example, are banned across Twitter and Meta’s platforms, which include Facebook and Instagram. During the 2020 election, platforms applied fact checks, labeled or removed more than 300 pieces of popular, false content that Common Cause turned up. More recently, in Texas, more than 100 volunteers worked four-hour shifts to monitor false claims coming out of the state’s primary election in March. The most frequent conspiracy theory shared that night claimed that staffing shortages at polling locations were deliberate, Bowers noted. “Texas is kind of the playbook for things to come,” said Emma Steiner, a disinformation analyst for the group. “My major concern is that local issues, like with these staff or ballot shortages, will be amplified by influencers or partisan actors with a national platform as signs of malign interference in elections; it’s a pretty recognized pattern from 2020.”

PolitiFact: Terrorism bulletin not attempt to criminalize free speech, despite claim

"We've seen real-life harm caused by election disinformation," said Jesse Littlewood, vice president for campaigns with Common Cause, a voter advocacy group. He cited the Capitol attack. "It is abundantly clear that we live in a time of increased threats of violence against election officials and poll workers fueled by election disinformation and conspiracy theories and like a pile of dry kindling it only takes a spark to ignite real world violence," Littlewood wrote in an email.

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