‘I’ve never seen it like this’: Fierce disinformation campaigns attack Florida Latino communities

  • 10/07/2020 10:44 am ET Siobhan Brier

Election Disinformation Event

Pixabay / memyselfaneye

The bad news: Florida Latinos are being attacked with conspiracy theories. Voters feel forced to choose between believing the stories or simply giving up on the news.

The good news: There are ways for you to learn which news is trustworthy, and which is only based on lies.

Your voice matters! Be sure that when you walk into the voting booth, you are making the best decision for you and your family, based on the truth.

We can help: Below you will find resources to sites you can trust as well as ways to spot conspiracy theories and disinformation attacks so that you can be an informed voter.


I’ve never seen it like this…

Read on for tips on how to protect yourself. Brought to you by Front Page Live in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the #VoteLikeaMadre campaign.

The problem

Pixabay / LoboStudioHamburg

Raul Martinez, Cuban immigrant and long-time mayor of Hialeah, Florida, is astounded by the sheer amount of conspiracy theories being pushed at Latino voters in his state. “It’s mind-boggling. I started in politics when I was 20. I’ve never seen it like this,” he said.

The fake news spreads primarily through WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, and radio stations.

The Latino community in Florida is very diverse, both in nationality and political opinion. Miami-Dade County is known for its large population of Republican-leaning Cuban voters. But now, there are also huge numbers of new voters from countries like Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua, who are living in Florida. This new voting demographic has the power to completely change the outcome of the upcoming US election.

This power is the reason Florida Latinos are getting hit the hardest with the disinformation campaigns.

How to spot fake news

Protest with one man holding a sign that says "I wish this were fake news"

Unsplash / Kayla Velasquez

It is well documented that human belief systems are malleable and our understanding of what is going on around us can be shaped by inputs that we hear over and over again. This is the philosophy of fake news campaigns: If someone hears a false story enough times, they will begin to think it’s true. But before you believe a story, and especially before you share a story, take a moment to verify its reliability with one (or all!) of these methods.

1. Check your source

Sometimes news sources will directly say “fantasy site” or “parody news site” on their homepage.

Other times, fake news sites try to copy the URL of real news websites. For example, if the website claims to be ABC News, a quick Google search will show that the real URL for ABC is ABCnews.go.com. Other, similar URLs are probably a fake copy.

You can also Google the name of a website or social media page and see if it appears on any lists of debunked news sites.

2. Don’t just read the headline

It is very common for websites and social media posts to use sensational headlines that aren’t entirely true, just to get you to click on the message. Reading the whole article will provide important context. After watching the full video, or reading the full article, you may find that the headline was taken out of context or exaggerated.

3. Research the author

If the author is not directly credited in an article, that is not a good sign. You can often perform a quick search for an author and discover a biography or some social media accounts. Ask yourself, does this person have the authority to write about this topic? For example, an article about coronavirus written by an emergency room doctor is more reliable than an article on the same topic written by a Twitter influencer.

4. Research the references

Research-based articles will include links to references, footnotes, or works cited page. Sometimes there are links, but when you follow them, they don’t support the article’s claim. Other times, you follow links and find that they don’t exist, or they go to unreliable sources.

Reliable sources

Here are a few news sources that offer fact-checked information:

For international and national news

While some of these sources may have a bias or occasionally include a sensationalized story, they will not post blatantly false information.

For health news

This page offers various sources for reliable news about the Coronavirus pandemic.

For fact-checking

We have power

Two toothpick flags

Flickr/Marco Verch

Why are our communities in Florida being targeted by these disinformation campaigns? Because Latinos have power. In 2020, Latinos could be the largest non-white voting bloc with more than 30 million eligible voters.

The people spreading these conspiracies are aware of this power, and they want to take advantage of it.

Society must allow for a variety of political opinions and perspectives — this is indicative of a healthy democracy! The trouble starts when we can no longer debate serious issues because we are distracted by stories that are completely fabricated.

When your choices are made based on reliable information, you can make better decisions at the polls. You can be sure that you are voting in the best interests of your family, your community, and yourself.

Vote Like A Madre

One way to ensure that you are voting in the best interests of your family is to #VoteLikeAMadre!

Latino communities in places like Florida and Arizona are at serious risk due to the effects of climate change which is why these vulnerable communities are rising up and finding their voice. Movements like #VoteLikeAMadre are evidence of that trend.

Madres are pinky promising their kids to consider the future when choosing their candidates this year.

Take the time to learn more about the dangerous disinformation programs you may be exposed to in both your online and offline channels. Then combat those conspiracy theories by making truly informed decisions when you create your plan to vote!

Disclaimer: This sponsored article was produced and distributed in partnership with Latino Victory Project, in support of the Vote Like a Madre campaign.

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