Online disinformation hits Latinx communities like never before.
“There can be no stronger proof that knowledge is power and that ignorance is weakness,”
wrote Thomas Jefferson two centuries ago.
Midterm elections are upon us, and they are crucial as they will shape the future of our country by determining the power of Congress.
And it begs the question:
Will Latinx be voting with the information they need to make decisions that might change their lives? In other words, is their knowledge based on proven facts?
As responsible communicators, here at Moira Studio we double and triple-check our sources and work with reputable research services and attorneys to corroborate our information before creating an ad.
But it is a jungle out there, and political predators abound. Disinformation is not new. But it has become very profitable for social media companies.
We know that Latinx will once again play a decisive role in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. That’s not the big news. Instead, the big news is that far-right groups made huge inroads into spreading “fake news” and many conservative groups have created a network of misleading information via social media, especially YouTube, and in particular from 2020 until today in 2022..
Using social media to spread false news is possible because young voters are not turning to traditional media to get the information they need to make their decisions, as Equis Research shows.
DISINFORMATION IS NOT A GAME.
But in today’s communications landscape, it has indeed become a game.
According to a recent Nielsen report about Latinx (“TRUST & INFLUENCE: THE ROLE OF
SOCIAL MEDIA & MESSAGING APPS”), they tend to credulously share most information with their friends, as easily as they do with jokes and other games.
That’s just what conservative groups want, and they are winning at this game. Their spread of disinformation poses a serious threat to our democracy:
For example, according to Naleo Educational Fund Projects, at Least 11.6 Million Latinx will cast ballots this November. Nearly 1 in 10 voters (9.8 percent) this year will be Latinx.
On the same token, a new WSJ poll found that Hispanic voters are now evenly split between parties in their intention of voting.
BEWARE THE MANY FACES OF YOUR ONLINE “FRIENDS.”
We all know there are at least two sides to social media: freedom of speech on the one side, harassment, lack of transparency and disinformation on the other.
We cannot live without social media in today’s world. But this formidable communications machine works for the good, and unfortunately, it also works for the bad and the ugly.
To help us unravel the puzzle, we talked to Adrian Reyna, a community organizer, political strategist, and former Director of Strategy at United We Dream.
We gained some insights through this fascinating conversation.
WHO ARE THE AGENTS OF DISINFORMATION?
Innocent users! And without even realizing it. As we browse our social media channels, we see noteworthy, or scandalous news, and it is so easy to forward it. We even feel good because we think we did the right thing. But we didn’t take the time to check the source. We assume we are among friends, and friends don’t mislead us, right? Wrong!
Unfortunately we’re not always among friends. We are among trolls, robots, and algorithms with no accountability whose main goal is for people to flock to their platforms. They create traffic, and traffic is money and traffic is money for the platforms but most of all, capturing minds means influence and swaying voters for political groups:
Politicians capitalize on that to manipulate opinion. They know very well that there is a trend to doubt institutions, so they hide behind your “friends”, building on social media’s power of influence.
Ring a bell? Not the Liberty Bell though!
We have to remember that these social media tools that we love, and rightfully so, have also bee used as tools by authoritarian countries like Iran, China, and Russia to influence public opinion and undermine the democratic processes.
¡URGE PONERSE LAS PILAS!
Yes, it is time to wise up and get moving.
Latinx, especially the youth, are targeted by social media giants and politicians because there are so many of us. We are a FORCE that politicians need because they need our vote.
As a society, and as voters, it is our responsibility to drive that influencer culture in social media, being transparent, clear, and simple, truthful.
As an individual it is our responsibility to always fact check what we read, go to the source, or google the author, it only takes a few minutes. And if the source is anonymous, stay away. When in doubt, do not forward!
The Virginia Race is a clear example of how politics uses social media to spread misinformation. According to Judd Legum research, 28 sites in Virginia, each purporting to be local news outlets and all owned by the same company, published almost 5,000 articles about critical race theory in schools.
This racist narrative particularly hurts the Latinx community. It has done so historically and still does now.
As communicators and influencers, we must act and saturate the airwaves with facts and the truth, with information we want people to discuss. We must explain what is at stake, what is important to us as Latinx.
Let’s start today!
We can and must do it! We must elect champions of the Latinx cause!
We invite you to learn more about our work and our fights. Visit Moira Studio and subscribe to our channel on your favorite streaming app for weekly conversations about politics and Latinx.
All your comments are welcome. We’d love to hear from you so head to our misinformation podcast episodes and leave us a comment or contact us at email@example.com.