MediaJustice

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 30, 2020

Contact: Christina DiPasquale, [email protected], 202.716.1953

Black and Brown Leaders Combatting Racialized Disinfo Ahead of Election Day and Beyond

MediaJustice and the Disinfo Defense League centered tactics to combat sophisticated disinformation campaigns to push back against efforts to silence and suppress the power of voters of color

Monday, October 26 through Friday, October 30, MediaJustice and the Disinfo Defense League hosted the Week of Action Against Disinformation, a week of virtual events gathering dozens of civil rights and racial justice organizations to combat disinformation targeting communities of color. As we approach Election Day on November 3rd, and remain vigilant as votes continue to be counted and people express their political beliefs online and in their communities, these groups will be taking action and available for media interviews.

“Following the corporate media consolidation that killed off Black and brown led media outlets dispelling harmful disinformation in our communities, the rise of unaccountable Big Tech platforms facilitates the reach and amplification of hate, lies, threats and organized violence against people of color,” said Erin Shields, National Field Organizer at MediaJustice. “As active media makers and consumers of social media, Black and brown communities are taking action to protect ourselves against the flood of toxicity threatening our vote, our social movements and our lives.”

MediaJustice is a co-host of the Disinfo Defense League Week of Action Against Disinformation and is holding Big Tech accountable as a leader of the Change the Terms coalition, over 60 other civil rights groups pressuring social media platforms to reduce hate online. To follow the organization’s campaigns for media justice, text STOPDISINFO to 52886.

Meghna Mahadevan, chief disinformation defense strategist at United We Dream Action said: “Access to good information is not made equal. Latinx, Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities are targets for disinformation campaigns as voter suppression and voter depression tactics. These campaigns create fear and racial division through false narratives and inaccurate content in order to discourage civic participation in communities of color. We are disrupting these campaigns by reaching out to our community with non-partisan factual, accessible content—be it on WhatsApp, on YouTube or Facebook. The industry of information has gone unregulated for too long. This must change.”

United We Dream Action is encouraging communities targeted by disinfo to disrupt it, joining UWD Action’s WhatsApp group by texting DISINFO to 877-877 or engaging at @reclaimtheweb on Instagram.

“To be clear, it is the responsibility of platforms to do more to curb the spread of harmful disinformation on their platforms, but so far they have been unwilling or unable to take meaningful action to address it,” said Bridget Todd, communications director at UltraViolet and host of There Are No Girls On The Internet. “In the absence of their leadership, we are working together to inoculate our communities against the spread of disinformation. We know communities of color are disproportionately impacted by disinformation. Media manipulators and disinformers attempt to weaponize our identities to stoke fear and pit us against each other because they know that when we come together, we’re that much stronger.”

UltraViolet developed a media guide to spot disinfo rooted in bias and a guide on how everyday social media users can curb disinfo. Follow @BridgetMarie for information about their forthcoming podcast series about disinfo targeting communities of color on iHeartRadio.

“Disinformation can feel like an abstract concept, but misleading and false narratives reach us all, threatening our sense of empowerment and our trust in democracy,” said Nora Benavidez, director of U.S. free expression programs at PEN America. “But these narratives will last far beyond November 3rd, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to help communities have the tools to fight back.”

The Week of Action Against Disinformation included:

  • Movement Leader Roundtable: Racialized Discrimination in the Digital Age
  • Presentation: How to Research Media Manipulation?
  • Talk: Need Structural Changes in Media with a Racial Justice Lens
  • Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA): How to Take Action with Disinformation Experts

“Disinformation, propaganda, and media manipulation are a feature of our media ecosystem, and unfortunately these tactics are easily adapted by bad actors for many purposes and many targets,” said Dr. Joan Donovan, disinformation expert. “It’s not just that disinformation threatens the integrity of our communication system, it harms people and exacerbates divisions, especially when it aims to exploit racial differences.”

Advocates participating in and contributing to the week of action include: United We Dream, Women’s March, Common Cause, Dr. Joan Donovan (Shorenstien Center), Wikimedia Foundation, data.org, Data & Society, Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP), Mozilla, Fight For The Future, The Greenlining Institute, Generation Justice, Voices for Racial Justice, Indivisible Northern Nevada, Equis Labs, CivicLex, Access Now, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Kairos, United Church of Christ, OC Inc, PEN America, Indivisible Plus Washington, UltraViolet, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Stop Online Violence Against Women Inc.

For event materials or to be connected to other groups: Christina DiPasquale, [email protected], 202.716.1953.

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MediaJustice is dedicated to building a grassroots movement for a more just and participatory media—fighting for racial, economic, and gender justice in a digital age. MediaJustice boldly advances communication rights, access, and power for communities harmed by persistent dehumanization, discrimination and disadvantage. Home of the #MediaJusticeNetwork, comprised of more than 100 grassroots partners, we envision a future where everyone is connected, represented, and free.

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