Racist groups in the U.S. are using Facebook and Twitter to spread false and abusive information about Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and other minority female candidates in the 2020 campaign, according to a British think tank.
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) report unveiled Oct. 5 said women from ethnic minority groups are “far more likely than men,” to get abusive language on Twitter, making up more than 15 percent of the messages compared with about 5-10 percent for male candidates.
The report was released to coincide with Harris’ Oct. 7 debate with Vice President Mike Pence.
The research is part of a larger story of how “Facebook continues to find ways to undermine Democracy and hard-fought civil rights wins,” said Arisha Hatch, executive director of the Color of Change Political Action Committee. “We all watched in horror when during the first presidential debate, Trump called his supporters to violence responding to a question about denouncing white Supremacy, telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
Hatch, who was joined by other researchers, went on to say, “On Facebook, every day similar networks racist and sexist use this platform to spread lies about women and people of color running for office too.”
According to the study, which was authored by Cécile Guerin and Eisha Maharasingam-Shah, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali–American, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a Puerto Rican–American, were targeted the most on Facebook.
During a Monday press conference where Hatch, along with researchers Shauna Thomas of the Ultra Violet, Chloe Colliver of ISD, and Kelsey Suter of Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosser research detailed the findings in the report. Suter said criticism posted in advance of the vice presidential debate is an attempt to discredit Harris. “The VP debate is an opportunity for Senator Harris to introduce herself to the American people.”
But, Suter said, “Female political candidates are portrayed as crazy, angry, unhinged who have manipulated their way into power.”
“There are two campaigns,” Thomas said adding that one is spreading false information that Biden is somehow mentality impaired and the other is that Harris is the leader of a “left-wing plot” poised to take over for a deranged Biden.
Women-led political action committees have been donated million’s to the Democratic ticket since Harris joined the ticket and people in watch parties across the country will be watching as Harris takes on Pence in Utah. Among the local gatherings will be students from Bowie State University who even invited students at the University of Maryland to take part in a virtual watch party.
“This is a proud moment for all sister girls and I will be watching along with my students and faculty at Bowie state,” said Dr. Deborah Bailey, assistant professor at Bowie State University. “I want to see this barrier broken.”
Dr. Linda Boyd, a public relations specialist, said the event is more than a debate. “It is not only a moment of history, it is a moment of pride, inspiration and encouragement. All of my nieces and the young girls that I mentor will be watching this debate.”
While Harris is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Boyd, who is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, said, “I am asking all of my sorors of Delta Sigma Theta to watch.”