Democrats are paying attention after a surprising number of Latino voters in swing states supported Trump.
One of the big surprises of the 2020 election was how even though most Latino voters across the US voted for Joe Biden, in some counties of competitive states like Florida and Texas, a higher than expected percentage of Latinos supported Donald Trump. One factor that many believe played a role: online misinformation about the Democratic candidate.
It’s still too early to know exactly why these voters favored Trump, a candidate who made demonizing Latino immigrants a cornerstone of his campaign and administration. For one, Latinos in the US are a diverse group of almost 60 million people who represent more than 15 origin countries and encompass a range of generational, socioeconomic, and religious identities. And we’re still waiting for more complete demographic data on voter turnout.
But Democrats are increasingly worried about the influence of misinformation on social media aimed at Latino voters in the runup to the election. The misleading narratives continue to spread on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as in closed chat groups like WhatsApp and Telegram, in addition to the more traditional platforms like television, radio, and talking points coming directly from elected officials.
Several misinformation researchers told Recode that they’re seeing alarming amounts of misinformation about voter fraud and Democratic leaders being shared in Latino social media communities. Biden is a popular target, with misinformation ranging from exaggerated claims that he embraces Fidel Castro-style socialism to more patently false and outlandish ones, for instance that the president-elect supports abortion minutes before a child’s birth or that he orchestrated a caravan of Cuban immigrants to infiltrate the US Southern border and disrupt the election process.
“What I’ve seen during this election looks to be a multifaceted misinformation effort seeking to undermine Biden and Harris’s support amongst the Latino community,” said Sam Woolley, a misinformation and…
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