Georgia Senate Runoff Targeted by Misinformation ‘Superspreaders’
“We take every opportunity to connect people with reliable information about the elections,” said McAlister. He said the company also “used the teams and technology we used in the general election to tackle voter suppression, misinformation and interference with the Georgia runoff”.
None of the top misinformation distributors responded to requests for comment.
Their claims ranged from insults – that the Democratic Senate candidates, Mr. Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are corrupt – to the oft-repeated false claim that voting machines running on Dominion Voting Systems software flipped President Trump’s votes have Mr. Biden.
Mr. Quran said that the reports also appeared to be “professionalized” in terms of spreading misinformation.
“We see them regularly test new narratives to see where they can hit a particular nerve and then act on it,” he said. Misinformation that successfully targeted Latino voters, for example in the November presidential election, was also reused for Georgia, he said.
A claim that Mr. Warnock, a pastor in an Atlanta church, was involved in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, “Celebrated Fidel Castro and welcomed him to his church,” was incorrect. The claim relates to Mr. Castro’s appearance at a New York church where Mr. Warnock was a pastor 25 years ago, and there is no evidence that Mr. Warnock was involved in organizing the visit. There is also no evidence that he greeted Mr Castro.
It was a variation on claims circulating during the Florida presidential election linking Democratic candidates to the Communist Party in Cuba. Some of these claims have also been translated into Spanish to appeal to the more than 300,000 Latin American voters in Georgia, the Quran said.
Georgian voters are also being targeted by new media startups with misleading information. A conservative local news network, Star News Group, which already operates news sites in Tennessee, Virginia and Minnesota, announced in November that it would be opening a company called Georgia Star, according to liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America. The network did not respond to a request for comment.