Democrats launch campaign to curb disinformation, focusing on voters of color and immigrants

With the presidential election looming, Democrats have announced new efforts aimed at combating voter disinformation, particularly among immigrants and communities of color.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shared first with NBC News that it is launching a series of websites on Thursday, translated across English, Hindi, Korean, simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. The information hubs, referred to as the “In It Together” campaign, will provide details on Democratic platforms.

The websites are aimed at countering disinformation that has been prevalent across closed messaging apps, like WeChat and WhatsApp, that are popular among communities of color, said Sarah Lin, the committee's national Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) engagement deputy director.

“Knowing how prevalent these closed platform groups are and how much our communities rely on them … we want to empower organizers, our volunteers with culturally competent, in-language content so that they can counter disinformation,” she said.

Through talking points and relevant articles, the websites will break down Democratic stances on issues starting with the cost of living, the economy, health care and community safety. More topics are set to be added throughout the election cycle.

With social media companies scaling back efforts to curb misinformation on their platforms, and former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election among several other factors, experts say disinformation could prove an unprecedented threat in the November election.

The mainstream media’s lack of coverage of immigrant communities like Asian Americans, in addition to scarce translations of existing coverage, make many communities of color more vulnerable to misinformation, experts said. The majority of Asian American eligible voters, for example, are foreign-born naturalized citizens. Roughly 57% of foreign-born Asians were proficient in English as of 2019.

And disinformation on closed-messaging platforms like WeChat, for example, proved to be threats before the 2022 midterms. Over five months that year, researchers found more than 300 articles shared on the app that they categorized as “major” disinformation, defined as having more than 5,000 views on WeChat or having spread to other platforms. One major disinformation narrative was the notion that election fraud was prevalent and threatening the foundation of democracy, the study said.

The information hubs are part of the DCCC’s $35 million investment “to persuade and mobilize” AANHPI, Black and Latino communities to help take control of the House, the organization announced this month. The organization ran a similar disinformation-related campaign last cycle in English and Spanish known as “Juntos.” This time, they are expanding to include more Asian American communities, many of which factor heavily into the competitive battlefield of 64 districts, said Mariafernanda Zacarias, the committee's national engagement director.

“We saw the highest concentration of AAPI voters in the L.A., Las Vegas and the New York media market. And we saw the diverse East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, ethnic communities in these key districts,” Zacarias said. “We wanted to literally meet voters where they were in the languages they speak.”

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