Ahead of election day, Latinos are seeing not just more political ads but also plenty of disinformation. …
Disinformation as a means of causing confusion, doubt and fear around voting is nothing new during campaigns, but social media make it easier to generate and spread. Latinos in particular are targets because they are a critical voting bloc, especially in battlegrounds such as Florida, Arizona and Texas.
In Florida, 20% of eligible voters in 2018 were Hispanic, nearly double the share in 2000, according to Pew Research. In Arizona, Hispanics accounted for 24% of all eligible voters in 2018. Latinos are also politically diverse – for example, Cuban Americans tend to vote Republican, while Puerto Ricans lean Democrat – so dissuading voting in Latino communities, even subtly, could tip an election.
There are several types of digital voting disinformation, such as giving the wrong time, place or manner of voting, according to democracy watchdog Common Cause. And during Covid-19, when normal routines are disrupted, online disinformation tactics are “much more believable and have a greater impact today than any other election cycle”, said Jesse Littlewood, vice-president at Common Cause, in a webinar.