Each of us is besieged on a daily basis by information from multiple sources. Too often that information is deliberately false and misleading. Such a climate makes managing elections — an already tough job — immeasurably more difficult. Not that fake news about elections is new. It’s been happening for years and the intention has always been the same: to confuse voters, erode public confidence in elections and their outcomes and, ultimately, undermine the democratic process.
To further complicate things, other factors are at work causing anarchy in the dissemination and consumption of information. Traditional media no longer fully control the public narrative. The democratization of news generation has changed the sources of new information and the way people consume it. Audiences are prone to believe only what they already believe, an act called re-enforcement bias that has become increasingly common with the advent of social media. Fighting calculated, coordinated disinformation campaigns with instantaneous global reach can feel almost impossible.
As a partner to election officials worldwide, we see this problem as one we all share. Smartmatic has been actively fighting well-orchestrated disinformation campaigns launched by bad actors since we deployed our first voting system in 2004.
Countering this scourge is a huge responsibility for election officials. To help, we have published Communications in the Age of Fake News: A Crisis Handbook for Election Commissions. This easy-to-use guide provides practical tools and actionable guidance to help jurisdictions combat the spread of false election information. You will find sensible, scalable ideas to help you prepare for and respond to fake news with a strategic approach that can engender support from voters, candidates and other stakeholders. Educating voters — who are the main target of these disinformation campaigns — and collaborating with fact-checking media outlets are strategies we’ve learned work to offset false information. We hope you find this guide helpful.
Download the handbook here and let us know what you think and what else we can do to help.
Smartmatic Founder and CEO
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State and Presidential Primaries 2020
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