Florida Latinos targeted with misinformation in 2020 campaign

ORLANDO, Fla — The rapid spread of misinformation, especially through social media, was especially pernicious in the 2020 election cycle, with misinformation directed at Florida’s Latino community.

“I think the Latino community in many ways was ground zero for the misinformation campaign,” says Dr. Bhaskar Chakravorti of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. “To all appearances, it was quite expensive and quite extensive, largely because (the) Latino community was considered a target for both parties.”

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In November, Chakravorti and his team issued a report, finding “non-traditional sources of news, namely news from social media, have been gaining popularity due to ease of access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media is often praised for its effortless ways of keeping everyone informed. However, this convenience becomes dangerous when posted information is false.”

The report, which found misinformation pervasive on both the left and the right, showed Florida to be an epicenter of misinformation, with a significant amount directed at the state’s Latino community.

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“Once the campaign began, they just started bombarding these groups,” says Marcos Vilar of Alianza for Progress. “Because they were like-minded folks, they just consumed and there was nobody there to counter the arguments.”

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.