Decision 2020

Conspiracy Theories Targeting South Florida's Latino Voters Ahead of Election

Experts say outlandish stories about candidates are influencing voters

NBC Universal, Inc.

In the race for the White House, conspiracy theories are running rampant in South Florida’s Hispanic voting circles, and experts say outlandish stories about candidates are influencing voters.

The headline on a recent Politico.com article spells it out: "This is f---ing crazy: Florida Latinos swamped by wild conspiracy theories.”

The article details how disinformation campaigns and conspiracy theories are targeting Latino voters.

“We are not debating the real issues, we are not debating healthcare, we’re not debating anything that is really serious today,” said FIU Political Science Professor Eduardo Gamarra. "Because we are so busy arguing over things that are not true.”

From The Black Lives Matter movement planning an attack on the White House to Joe Biden sexually assaulting children, the article looks at how some commentators in Spanish media perpetuate the lies.

It says social media platforms including Facebook and especially WhatsApp are commonly used to disseminate disinformation.

And Gamarra said it’s becoming even more widespread.

"Mainstream radio stations, identified by Politico, are reproducing these messages," he said.

According to the article, vulnerable communities are being targeted, like Venezuelan-Americans, who have watched their home country devolve into political chaos, fearing the same thing could happen here.

The climate crisis is taking center stage on the presidential campaign trail as wildfires rage across the west and the Gulf Coast braces for impact from another hurricane.

“A lot of voters do end up taking those conspiracy theories into consideration when they go to the polls,” said NBC 6 political analyst Carlos Curbelo.

Gamarra said he can see the disinformation campaign’s success in the polling coming out of Latino communities.

“It translates obviously, into what the airways say here, what social media says here and now we think it is showing up in concrete electoral results,” Gamarra said.

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