Earlier, I attended an online workshop organized by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Technology and Social Change Project on media manipulation in the context of the 2020 US presidential campaign. Very productive conversation on the tailoring of disinformation memes to the various minority communities. I also learned about the Taiwanese “humor over rumor” strategy…
Piece in Axios about tech companies’ contingency planning for election night and its aftermath. The last paragraph sums up the conundrum:
Every group tasked with assuring Americans that their votes get counted — unelected bureaucrats, tech companies and the media — already faces a trust deficit among many populations, particularly Trump supporters.
In this case it is not even clear whether a concurrence of opinion and a unified message would strengthen the credibility of these actors and of their point of view or rather confirm sceptics even further in their conspiracy beliefs.
Yesterday I attended an online panel organized by the Atlantic Council with government (Matt Masterson of CISA), think-tank (Alicia Wanless of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Clara Tsao of the AC’s DFRLab) and industry figures (Nathaniel Gleicher of FB and Yoel Roth of Twitter) on steps being taken to guarantee the integrity of the electoral process in the US this Fall. The general sense was that the current ecosystem is much less vulnerable to disinformation than the last presidential cycle, four years ago, and this despite the unprecedented challenges of the current election. However, the most interesting panelist, Wanless, was also the least bullish about the process.
Yesterday, I attended the webinar for the public launch of the Election Integrity Partnership between Stanford, U Dub, Graphika and the Atlantic Council. Quite serious and professional public-interest work being done, and clearly timely.
The definition of electoral disinformation the Partnership adopted as their operational target seemed quite well-tailored and manageably factual (e.g. information such as voting hours and poll locations, the presence or absence of massive queues, mis-documented instances of fraud…).
What struck me as remarkable, however, is that there would be plausible user cases in which this type of factual information would be sought first and foremost, or with greater assurance and trust, on random posts on social media platforms: this really speaks to a gigantic lack of authoritativeness or communication ability on the part of election officials.