Color of Change president Rashad Robinson traces the quick spread of propaganda to social media leaders putting profit and power over making hard decisions when talking to Ali Velshi today.
December 20, 2020

Have you heard the one about the "vote-flipping" machines engineered by Hugo Chavez who's been dead for nearly ten years? Or the one about numbers of ballots coming out of ceilings or leather bags? If so, you're one of the millions of people who are on Facebook, Twitter, or have had the misfortune of hearing Donald Trump open his yap about the 2020 Election that he roundly lost (but insists he won.)

Ali Velshi talked about a report that demonstrated that of 200 misleading and false posts on Facebook, 60% of them reached thousands of voters with no fact-check or warning label. He asked Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, how to prevent the spread of misinformation, and why it's everywhere.

ROBINSON: Yeah. Part of why this is so all over the place is because of decisions that the social media platforms have consistently made to prioritize growth and profit over safety, integrity and security. In every phase where they do that, they make decisions and rules that allow this content to travel quickly, to not actually disable people's account the way that they should, to not pull town this information as quickly and put in systems to actually pull it down quickly. We've had many conversations. We ran campaigns. We pushed. We had a whole boycott this summer on facebook and even while we were having the boycott they were making claims to media how much of this information their artificial intelligence actually catches. And then you realize that's not actually the case.

Their artificial intelligence is designed, once again, by people inside the companies whose intelligence should be under question, both in terms of this sort of history of disinformation and misinformation when it comes to elections, but also the day-to-day interactions people have with these platforms that allow this information to travel so quickly, to allow it to serve sort of greater profit for the leaders of this platform and in many ways to allow political decisions about not wanting to be in the bad graces of one political party, so as a result, not make the hard decisions. All of this is a result of that. For anyone who is watching, this is not a car accident. This is the result of decisions that have been made, that now communities like ours, like Black communities are having to deal with.

Velshi then turned to Janell Ross to discuss the huge voter turnout in Georgia, the electorate seeming energized despite all this misinformation, and the predictable reduction in the number of polling places, given the fact that the racist GOP is still in charge of the election in that state.

ROSS: It seems that turnout, for the most part, is pretty significant.
There is, without question, I think, a lot of conflicting, often utterly false information floating around. This is an occasion, however, where it seems much of the disinformation, it will be very interesting to ultimately know where this information is coming from, because it didn't quite seem to be having the desired effect.

I would say that when I speak to people around the state of Georgia -- I'm headed to Macon today. I'm in Atlanta now. It seems to be many Republican voters who are most distrustful of the voting system, of the voting -- the election officials in the state, and have real questions and/or doubts about the ability to have a free and fair election. And, therefore, I certainly have certainly spoken with some people who have really questioned whether or not this is something they want to spend their time on, if they want to totally disengage from this process.

On the other side of the equation, i've spoken to many Democrats, many of them People of Color, who have a lot concerns about what local officials in their view are doing to make it difficult to vote. You mentioned the issue of closing early polling sites or limiting number of early polling site sites, which can have a pretty significant impact if you have to wait more than an hour to vote, and you have a job where you are paid by the hour.

The Republicans' insidious propaganda campaign might seem to be backfiring on them at the moment, but we also know from history that there's no bottom to their capacity for ratfcking Black people and People of Color out of their votes. Now is the time to double down on our vigilance and activism, not take a break from it. And if we win the Senate, maybe they can pass legislation that regulates and sanctions social media giants like Facebook and Twitter for playing such an outsized role in Trump's failing up into the White House.

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