To kickoff Latino USA’s 2022 election cycle coverage, Maria is joined by In The Thick co-host Julio Ricardo Varela, Maria Teresa Kumar, founding president and CEO of Voto Latino, and Jaime Longoria, manager of research and training for the Disinfo Defense League at Media Democracy Fund. They get into who is behind these disinformation campaigns, their impact on communities, and the organizing that is being done to counter these issues.
In the last few years, with the 2020 presidential election and information around COVID-19, we’ve seen misinformation and disinformation campaigns targeted at Latino communities. A lot of this is being spread online through platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, but some of these social media platforms are failing to make their audiences aware that this is happening. For example, after the 2020 presidential election, research from the online advocacy group Avaaz found that Facebook failed to flag 70 percent of Spanish-language misinformation.
And it’s not only happening online. Spanish radio stations —particularly in south Florida— have been criticized for spreading disinformation. On the other hand, we’re also seeing some work on the grassroots level to counter these issues, such as local organizations working to get accurate information out into their communities.
Latinos make up the nation’s largest ethnic voting bloc, so there’s a lot at stake with the upcoming midterm elections.
The work of Maria Teresa and Jamie is rooted in confronting and researching disinformation in Latino communities. Maria Teresa is co-chair of the Latino Anti-Disinformation Lab, and Jaime’s work at the Disinfo Defense League focuses on fighting racialized disinformation targeting communities of color.
Throughout this roundtable discussion, the guests delve into the key differences between misinformation and disinformation. In addition, they discuss who is behind these misinformation and disinformation campaigns, why is this more widespread in Spanish-speaking communities and, ultimately, what can be done to combat misinformation and disinformation?