Misinformation swirls in non-English languages ahead of US midterms

Mr Nick Nguyen, a co-founder of Viet Fact Check, a website to help explain and debunk misinformation circulating in the Vietnamese American community, going over translations in Palo Alto, California, on Sept 26, 2022. More multilingual fact-checking groups are pushing back against misleading translations, manipulated images and outright lies that jump platforms and cross borders. PHOTO: NYTIMES
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NEW YORK – Unsubstantiated rumours and outright falsehoods spread widely in immigrant communities before the presidential election in 2020.

That is happening again in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections, researchers say, but with an insidious twist: The social media accounts pushing misinformation are now targeting audiences in more languages on more topics and across more digital platforms, with scant resistance from social media companies. In recent weeks, posts exaggerating the fallout from inflation have been aimed at Americans from Latin American countries that have been crippled by poor economic management. Conspiracy theories that spread in August about the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) plans for a “shadow army” led mentions of “Ejercito IRS” to surge alongside “IRS army”, its equivalent in English, according to the research group Zignal.

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