How Texas GOP's restrictive bills could keep their own voters from reaching the polls
Latino voters in Texas have increased, including more votes for GOP candidates, as Republicans' proposed voting restrictions will dampen participation, analysts warn.Little Joe, whose full name is José María de León Hernández, has pushed for equality for much of his more than six decades in entertainment. He has joined protests for farmworkers and was active in civil rights protests of the Chicano Movement.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Before last year's presidential election, Facebook ads targeting Latino voters described Joe Biden as a communist. During his inauguration, another conspiracy theory spread online and on Spanish-language radio warning that a brooch worn by Lady Gaga signaled Biden was working with shadowy, leftist figures abroad. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - A sign in Spanish stands near voters as they cast their ballots at stations inside the La Familia Recreation Center in the Baker neighborhood Nov. 3, 2020, south of downtown Denver. This month’s elections may have offered a preview of the Spanish-language misinformation that could pose a growing threat to Democrats, who are already anxious about their standing with Latino voters after losing some ground with them last year. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
And in the final stretch of Virginia's election for governor, stories written in Spanish accused Biden of ordering the arrest of a man during a school board meeting.
The NFL battle against Covid has no end in sight
Too many players are willing to put their bad “science” ahead of their team.When it comes to players, there’s considerably less mystery. They’ve had every opportunity to try to normalize this process as much as possible.
None of that was true. But such misinformation represents a growing threat to Democrats, who are anxious about their standing with Latino voters after surprise losses last year in places like South Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
Heading into a midterm election in which control of Congress is at stake, lawmakers, researchers and activists are preparing for another onslaught of falsehoods targeted at Spanish-speaking voters. And they say social media platforms that often host those mistruths aren't prepared.
“For a lot of people, there’s a lot of concern that 2022 will be another big wave,” said Guy Mentel, executive director of Global Americans, a think tank that provides analysis of key issues throughout the Americas.
Latino activists flex redistricting muscle after decade of growth
After two straight decades in which Latinos powered population growth in the United States, Latino and Hispanic activist groups are demanding more political representation in Congress and legislatures as states redraw their political boundaries.In capitals across the country, those activist groups are urging legislatures to add new districts in which a majority of the population is Hispanic, in hopes of increasing the number of elected officials who look like the communities they represent. So far, many of those groups have come away hoping for more."This has turned out to be a very disappointing redistricting cycle.
This month's elections may be a preview of what's to come.
After Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy won New Jersey’s close governor’s race, Spanish-language videos falsely claimed the vote was rigged, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud — a fact the Republican candidate acknowledged, calling the results “legal and fair.”
In Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin campaigned successfully on promises to defend “parental rights” in classrooms, false headlines around a controversial school board meeting emerged.
“Biden ordenó arrestar a padre de una joven violada por un trans,” read one of several misleading articles, translating to “Biden ordered the arrest of a father whose daughter was raped by a trans.”
The mistruth was spun from an altercation during a chaotic school board meeting months earlier in Loudoun County that resulted in the arrest of a father whose daughter was sexually assaulted in a bathroom by another student. The father claimed the suspect was “gender fluid,” which sparked outcry over the school’s policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.
'Historic': White House pitches Build Back Better's help for Latino families
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks break down film showing how San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is emerging as the NFL's prototype for a "wing back."
In reality, the White House wasn't involved with the meeting. The man was arrested by the local sheriff’s department. It’s also unclear how the suspect identifies.
Loudoun County was already the epicenter of a heated political debate over how the history of racism is taught in schools — another issue that became fodder for misinformation and political attacks on Spanish-language websites this summer, said Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, a nonprofit that mobilizes Hispanics to become politically engaged.
“It has everything to do with trust in institutions. Trust in government,” said Kumar, whose group works to combat the misinformation. “Eroding that trust will transfer not just to voting in the midterms, but just overall disengagement from your government."
Stretched truths accusing some Democrats of being socialists or communists could also dominate the online narrative, said Diego Groisman, a research analyst at New York University’s Cybersecurity for Democracy project.
During the 2020 election, Groisman flagged Facebook ads targeting Latino voters in Texas and Florida that described Biden as a “communist." The ads in Florida — where a majority of the country's Venezuelan population is concentrated — compared Biden to that country's socialist President Nicolás Maduro.
Activists protest Facebook's 'failure' on disinformation with body bags outside DC office
Activists staged a protest with body bags labeled "disinfo kills" outside of Facebook's Washington, D.C., office on Wednesday as part of a push to hold the social media giant accountable for amplifying false information about COVID-19.The demonstration was organized by the group Real Facebook Oversight Board, which has been pressuring the social media giant to change its policies to crack down on the spread of disinformation.HAPPENING NOW: In front of Facebook HQ in Washington DCBody bags line the street. Facebook disinformation kills. pic.twitter.
“There were clearly specific Spanish-speaking communities that were being targeted,” said Laura Edelson, the lead researcher for NYU’s program.
Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, a Florida Democratic strategist who watches Spanish misinformation patterns, says many online narratives intentionally stoke “fear in the Spanish-speaking communities."
One conspiracy theory mentioned on talk radio grew out of Lady Gaga's golden bird brooch at Biden’s inauguration. Some spreading the claim noted a similar brooch once worn by Claudia López Hernandez, the first openly gay mayor of Bogota, Colombia, signaled the new president was working with foreign leftists.
“They’re not going to stop. They’re going to double down on it,” Pérez-Verdía said of the misinformation.
Critics argue that social media companies like Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, have placed outsize attention on removing or fact-checking misinformation in English over other languages like Spanish.
Facebook’s own documents, leaked by ex-Facebook employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen earlier this year, echo those concerns. Haugen said the company spends 87% of its misinformation budget on U.S. content — a figure that Meta spokesperson Kevin McAllister said is “out of context.”
Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks
Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don't already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. Welcome and Happy Thursday! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. Two Democratic senators introduced a new Section 230 reform bill Thursday that aims to hold tech companies accountable for spreading health misinformation, building off Democrats' push to weed out false claims about COVID-19 vaccines as the Biden administration str
An internal Facebook memo, written in March, revealed the company's ability to detect anti-vaccine rhetoric and misinformation was “basically non-existent” in non-English comments.
Last year, for example, Instagram and Facebook banned “#plandemic,” a hashtag associated with a video full of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Yet users were spreading misinformation on the platforms using “#plandemia,” the Spanish version of the hashtag, until just last month.
An analysis last year by Avaaz, a left-leaning advocacy group that tracks online misinformation, also found Facebook failed to flag 70% of Spanish-language misinformation surrounding COVID-19 compared to just 29% of such information in English.
McAllister said the company removes false Spanish-language claims about voter fraud, COVID-19 and vaccines. Four news outlets, including The Associated Press, also fact-check Spanish-language falsehoods circulating around U.S. content on Instagram and Facebook.
Meanwhile, researchers at the nonpartisan Global Disinformation Index estimated that Google will make $12 million this year off ads on websites that peddled COVID-19 disinformation in Spanish. Google has “stopped serving ads on a majority of the pages shared in the report," company spokesperson Michael Aciman said in an email.
“Spanish-language misinformation campaigns are absolutely exploding on social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.,” New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the party’s top progressive voices, tweeted after the Nov. 2 election.
Trying to fight COVID misinformation, White House risks falling into same feedback loop
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s campaign against COVID-19 misinformation risks falling prey to the same phenomenon it seeks to combat. As the nation struggles with low vaccination rates in some states, the White House stepped up pressure on social media companies last week to remove content and users promoting falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine. The White House unveiled a set of new recommendations to social media companies to step up enforcement of content standards, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a formal advisory about the health risks of misinformation, and President Joe Biden and others offered stern warnings about the deadly impact of
That explosion is fueled in part by a U.S.-Latin America feedback loop that allows falsehoods to fester.
Misinformation that starts on U.S. websites is sometimes translated by social media pages in Latin American countries like Colombia and Venezuela. The inaccuracies are shared back through YouTube videos or messaging apps with Spanish speakers in expatriate communities like those in Miami and Houston.
Those falsehoods are more likely to reach U.S. Latinos because they tend to spend more time on sites such as YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram, according to an October Nielsen report.
“We see YouTube accounts or radio stations churning out mis- or disinformation regarding a whole range of things that they pick up from fringe U.S. outlets,” Mentel said.
Some are working to fill the void of reliable information in those communities.
The Oakland, California, news service El Timpano delivers a text message of local news in Spanish to roughly 2,000 subscribers every week. Subscribers can text back with questions that staffers work to answer, said Madeleine Blair, who launched El Timpano.
The news service has fielded more than 1,500 questions over the past year, including ones about hoax COVID-19 cures.
“We really ramped up because it was clear that the communities we were serving were most in need of basic public health information,” Blair said, “and that information wasn’t reaching them.”
Others have urged the government to take on a watchdog role. Federal Trade Commission commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, a Democrat, said the regulator may look at disparities in how Big Tech monitors English-language disinformation compared to other languages.
“The first thing I think we need to do is investigate,” Slaughter said during a November panel with lawmakers.
Associated Press writers Marcos Martínez Chacón in Monterrey, Mexico, Abril Mulato in Mexico City and Marcy Gordon in Washington contributed to this report.
Bob Dole's standing with Latino voters reflects changing Republican Party .
While Bob Dole's national campaigns failed to draw strong Latino support his passing is a chance to look at changing Republican politics around immigration.Such was the complicated legacy of Bob Dole — who died Sunday at 98 — with the Latino community. During Dole’s political heyday, the Latino population tripled, and immigration emerged as a hot-button issue among conservatives. While his national campaigns failed to draw strong Latino support, Dole’s passing is an opportunity to reflect on the politics of a Republican from a different era.