World News – US – Weeks before critical runoff elections, Georgia becomes ground zero for election disinformation


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One month before the Georgia voters decide which party will control the U. S.. . Senate, online disinformation about the state elections comes into full swing. The full force of the most effective fake news tactic of 2020 hits the state: fears of widespread electoral fraud, allegations of violence and allegations of the candidates’ socialism. Despite its much-touted efforts to add warning or fact-checking labels to election disinformation, Facebook can’t do exactly that on more than half of the questionable posts related to the Georgia races, according to a new analysis by Avaaz, a nonprofit, tracks online -Disinformation.

The group found that Facebook failed to add fact-checking labels to at least 60% of a cross section of misinformation related to elections in Georgia that reached thousands of voters. An analysis of more than 200 posts promoting a dozen false claims in English and Spanish about the Georgia elections showed how the posts followed a now-worn disinformation heightening game book that has proven to be effective in recent months Has. These include falsehoods about widespread electoral fraud, false rumors about acts of violence against African-American voters and allegations that the Democratic Senate candidate, Raphael Warnock, « celebrated » Cuban leader Fidel Castro. This sample of false claims was widespread, yielding more than 643. 400 interactions emerged, although Facebook’s own fact-checking partners clearly exposed it.

In the November presidential election, Biden took Georgia by a wafer-thin margin of 12. 670 votes or 0 colored blue. 25%, for the first time in nearly two decades. Current surveys show that Jan. . 5 Drains That Decide If Republicans Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler will keep their seats or lose to their Democratic opponents will also be close. If the Democrats manage to win both seats, control of the Senate will be placed in the hands of the Democrats.

In such a highly competitive, high-stakes competition, a deluge of online disinformation that undermines confidence in the elections, targeting major constituencies or spreading viral false claims about candidates could make a real difference, according to analysts. This fall, « we’ve seen disinformation actors targeting a number of swing states, and now they’re putting all of their resources together so that all of this disinformation can have an increased, more extreme impact, » Avadiaz campaign leader Fadi Quran told Quran TIME. « Even if it’s the same type, even though Facebook’s mistakes are the same, the consequences are much greater. ”

When Facebook partners, which include Politifact and several news organizations, identify false claims, the company uses « technology to identify nearly identical versions » and flag them. Between March and November. 3, Facebook says it added warning labels to more than 180 million posts that contained election misinformation.

Critics of Facebook’s election efforts say the company’s introduction of fact-checking labels was primarily a good public relations measure, and not the most effective way to expose misinformation for the platform’s users. In the months leading up to the election, Facebook announced that it would label the election disinformation, including « newsworthy » posts by politicians making false claims and removing posts that violated the company’s electoral meddling rules.

But other features are designed to help tackle election disinformation that many pundits believe to be more effective, including retrospectively notifying users that they saw false messages, redirecting them to specific fact-checking instead of neutral labels, and downgrading of « hate lures » intended to invite a According to the New York Times, Facebook executives vetoed a spate of angry comments and stocks that feared they would disproportionately relate to right-wing sites and provoke backlash from conservative users.

The Georgia analysis shows how Facebook inconsistently applies its fact-checking or warning notices to nearly identical misinformation. For example a Nov. . 11 segments of Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, shared on Facebook, making false claims about dead people voting in Georgia as evidence of widespread fraud, now includes a label warning of “partially false information. « The same segment shared by the Team Trump Facebook page which has over two million followers has just been given a neutral label stating that postal voting and personal voting » have a long history of trustworthiness in the U.. S.. . The same claims, when written in a Spanish-language post shared more than 300 times, have no label at all.

Other widespread false claims made by President Donald Trump, Republican politicians, and Conservative officials about Georgia – for example that the consent decree prevented officials from verifying signatures on postal voting envelopes, that electoral officials were spotted casting ballots, and that Democrats let Democrats Volunteers going door-to-door to « heal » or repair their ballots and that Republican votes had been found in a dumpster – showed similarly inconsistent labeling.

Top electoral officials in Georgia have pushed aside these claims, many of which were immortalized by Trump and other Republican leaders as part of a presidential-requested vote count in the state’s presidential campaign. These attacks, which have intensified on Facebook and other platforms, have resulted in death threats and harassment from election officials. A Twitter thread accusing a 20-year-old technician working for Dominion Voting Systems of altering ballot papers resulted in his identity being released and threatened with “being hung for treason. ”

« Someone is injured, someone is shot, someone is killed, » Gabriel Sterling, who works in the Republican Foreign Secretary’s office, said at a press conference Tuesday and appeared visibly angry. « That is not right. ”

The disinformation about Georgia’s drains also shows how both politicians and partisans have become adept at filling gaps in Facebook’s policy. In one case, Republican candidate Kelly Loeffler told a Fox News story about how a church where Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock had served as youth pastor welcomed Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1995. She said this was evidence that he was « the most dangerous and radical candidate in America. « According to the company’s own fact-checking partner, PolitiFact, » there is no evidence that Warnock was involved in organizing the speech or greeting Castro. ”

While Loeffler is protected by Facebook’s political speaking policy, which exempts politicians from third party fact-checking, the post didn’t even receive a general election label warning users of unverified claims. Neither did the « vast majority » of shares in their misleading claim, which Avaaz said was reinforced across the platform. The official Georgia GOP website spread the unsubstantiated claim that Warnock was personally involved, calling him a « true radical » who « celebrated Castro. ». Breitbart published a misleading article quoting Loeffler about Warnock’s « Marxist ideology » which was « exposed » by Castro’s visit, which was also widespread at the time. None of these posts were given election labels by Facebook.

Another false claim posted on a Facebook page that was more than 2. Divided, 000 times, warned that the NAACP in Georgia issued a warning that white supremacists and other marginalized groups would attack black men for violent crimes this weekend. « It was given a real fact-checking label calling it a false claim and linking it directly to a Politifact article exposing it, but posts sharing the copied text did not, according to Avaaz’s analysis. « .

This is likely just the beginning of what’s to come in Georgia as the state will be zeroed in the current 2020 election saga, Avaaz says. « Facebook’s failure to respond to such content could further undermine confidence in the electoral process and affect both voter turnout and behavior. [And] have the potential to suppress the turnout of key constituencies in the special elections, « the report said.

Georgia, Donald Trump, misinformation, US presidential election, 2020

World news – US – Weeks ahead of critical runoff elections, Georgia becomes ground zero for election disinformation
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