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Media & Democracy 11.29.2022

HuffPost: Elon Musk Is Rolling Out Twitter's Red Carpet For The Far Right

Emma Steiner, a disinformation analyst at the watchdog group Common Cause, said she knew of new accounts being created on Twitter that were focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, supporters of which call for the mass arrest or execution of public figures they accuse of being satanic pedophiles. Some accounts, Steiner said, are trying to “censorship check” Twitter by seeing what kind of material earns a response from the company ― what she called “a lot of boundary-pushing.” Steiner noted one recent high-stakes test Twitter faced: when Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, tweeted incorrect advice to voters on Election Day. Voters in Maricopa County were experiencing long lines and printer problems in several polling places across the county, which is home to Phoenix and most of the state’s voters. Arizonans can participate at any polling place in a given county — if they’ve signed in to one, they only need to be “checked out” to go to another — but Lake urged voters not to switch polling locations at all. Steiner contacted Twitter, urging the site to append a fact check to Lake’s tweets. Knowledgeable reporters, she noted, had pointed out that Lake was giving false information to her supporters. The tweets could potentially suppress the participation of Lake’s own supporters in the election, a violation of Twitter’s rules. “It was completely inaccurate,” Steiner said. “You just have to talk to a poll worker to be checked out, and then you can go to another location.” Twitter “declined” to act on the false Lake tweet, Steiner said. Since then, Lake has repeatedly cited long lines on Election Day as part of her refusal to concede the election, despite trailing the winner, Democrat Katie Hobbs, by more than 17,000 votes. Twitter’s refusal to address the false information from Lake is part of a pattern: The previous Friday, Common Cause had flagged multiple inaccurate tweets about vote-rigging and election fraud, some from accounts with more than 1 million followers, to Twitter only to hear the day before Election Day ― an unusually long response time ― that Twitter would not take action. “It made us wonder if content moderation was still happening at the platform,” Steiner said. To the extent Musk is following any plan at all, it’s one of opposition to his perceived philosophical enemies, Steiner said. “It does seem to be kind of an ‘owning the libs’ strategy.”

Media & Democracy 11.22.2022

Newsweek: Will Trump Staying Off Twitter Doom Him Politically?

While some figures on Twitter continued to share disinformation on the platform around the 2022 midterm election cycle, Jesse Littlewood, vice president of campaigns at the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause, told Newsweek that the amount of disinformation about election integrity substantially decreased after Trump left the platform, falling below levels seen in the 2018 midterms, according to a survey by online monitoring platform Zignal Labs published in the Washington Post. ... Trump, Littlewood said, was a thought leader for a movement, with an unparalleled reach that commanded attention: "When Trump tweeted something, it would be amplified in mainstream news networks," he said.

Ohio Capital Journal: Legal expert, voter advocates slam Ohio GOP plan to make citizen ballot initiatives harder to pass

Some activists, like Catherine Turcer with Common Cause Ohio, say this would make it significantly harder for Ohioans, regardless of political affiliation, to have their voices heard. “It’s just like putting your hand on the scale making it even harder for citizens to challenge the authority of the state legislature,” she said. “And direct democracy is about a check on the state legislature.” “We’re talking about the need to do a citizen initiative to take the mapmaking away from elected officials and create an independent commission,” she said. “The only reason to do this is to thwart the will of the people and to retain power — and the power to gerrymander,” she added.

Voting & Elections 11.10.2022

Associated Press: Candidates who backed overturning Trump loss are rebuffed

“We’re seeing a bit of a scramble for the right message” among election deniers online, said Emma Steiner, who monitors disinformation for Common Cause. She said concessions from candidates including Dixon in Michigan and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania make “it a little more difficult for election deniers to continue.”

Voting & Elections 11.9.2022

Washington Post: Trump called a protest. No one showed. Why GOP efforts to cry foul fizzled this time.

“Sometimes, with tactics like this, the story is the intimidation,” Suzanne Almeida, director of state operations for the watchdog group Common Cause. “It’s about making a movement seem bigger than it is … making a fringe idea feel very mainstream, and like it’s everywhere.”

New York Times: Elon Musk Puts His Own Politics on Display on Election Day

Common Cause, a pro-democracy advocacy group, said this week that it had flagged several tweets pushing false narratives, such as that election results not announced on Tuesday night are a sign of fraud. The group said that “it has taken Twitter much longer than normal to adjudicate” whether the posts violated its policies, a process that usually takes less than three hours but was unresolved after more than three days.

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