Nepal | December 02, 2020

Harris target of more misinformation than Pence, data shows

Associated Press
Share Now:

CHICAGO: Long before Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced her as his running mate, Kamala Harris was the target of widespread online misinformation.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a mobile campaign event, on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, in Phoenix. Photo: AP

Social media posts included racist claims that she was ineligible to serve in the White House or that she was lying about her Black and Indian heritage. Her mother is from India and her father from Jamaica.

Since being named to the presidential ticket, Harris has been at the centre of online misinformation campaigns four times as much as the white men who campaigned for the job in the last four years, according to a report from media intelligence firm Zignal Labs shared exclusively with The Associated Press.

“The narratives related to Kamala Harris zeroed in much more on her personal identity, especially as a woman of color,” said Jennifer Granston, head of insights at Zignal Labs.

The firm identified more than 1 million mentions since June on Twitter of Harris with hashtags or terms associated with misinformation about her. The mentions include fact checks that rebuffed the falsehoods, but those made up only a small portion of that conversation.

Nearly 300,000 of those mentions were about Harris’ eligibility to serve as president, according to Zignal’s findings. The AP identified that false claim circulating online in January 2019, when Harris announced she was running for president.

The untrue assertion got a huge boost again, however, in August when President Donald Trump elevated it from his presidential podium.

Harris’ birth certificate shows she was born on Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, making her eligible to serve as either vice president or president. Social media chatter around Harris’ eligibility declined after being “eclipsed” by fact checks from news organizations that debunked it, Granston added.

There’s been a huge uptick in social media conversation around the vice presidential candidates this year, compared to the 2016 campaign. From July to October, Harris and Republican Vice President Mike Pence have been mentioned almost 48 million times combined on Twitter, compared to only 12 million total mentions of Pence or Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee four years ago.

Misinformation accounted for less than 1% of Twitter talk when Pence and Kaine were running in 2016. The same goes for Pence this year, with most of the misleading claims around him centered on the idea that he supports gay conversion therapy, which Pence has repeatedly denied.

But misinformation around Harris has been more prevalent, making up more than 4% of the conversation on Twitter, Zignal Labs found.

That’s largely been driven by sexist or racist narratives that have swirled online around Harris, who is the first Black and Indian woman running for vice president, said Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation fellow at the nonpartisan Wilson Center.

Some of those social media posts push the idea that Harris, a California senator, used her romantic relationships to advance her career. That narrative gained popularity with hashtags like #HeelsUpHarris, which is used regularly by conservative influencers who have millions of followers. Zignal Labs found nearly 350,000 mentions on Twitter of hashtags or terms related to that narrative.

And Jankowicz has identified dozens of memes circulating on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that superimpose photos of Harris onto images of sex workers or use sexist slurs to describe her. Her preliminary research shows that during the October 7 vice presidential debate, hashtags using sexual or violent terms for Harris skyrocketed on fringe social media platforms like Parler by 631% and 4chan by 1,078%.

“Time and time again when we see these narratives being used against women in public life, it’s meant to take women who are powerful and respected and knock them down a few pegs,” Jankowicz said.



Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Nepal COVID-19 Update: 1304 new cases, 2073 recoveries, 21 fatalities recorded on Tuesday

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry, in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates on coronavirus contagion from across the country, and government’s response to the health crisis. READ ALSO: 530 of 1304 cases reported today from Kathmandu valley Till date, 1,746,330 tests throu Read More...

Nepalgunj Airport

Nepalgunj airport to be developed as hub airport: Minister Bhattarai

NEPALGUNJ: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai today stressed for developing the Nepalgunj Airport as one of the hub airports in the country. While inaugurating the extended airport apron here today, Minister Bhattarai said that the Nepalgunj and Biratnagar airports Read More...

Jones seals progress for depleted Liverpool with win over Ajax

LIVERPOOL: Teenager Curtis Jones grabbed a 58th-minute winner as an injury-hit Liverpool qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Ajax Amsterdam at Anfield on Tuesday. The victory ensured top spot in Group D for Juergen Klopp's side with 12 points after riv Read More...

Ministry of Home Affairs

Bar on strike in delivery of essential services

KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 1 The Government of Nepal has imposed a ban on strike or bandh in production, supply, sale and distribution of 25 essential goods and services amid the COVID pandemic. As per a notice published by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Nepal Gazette yesterday, the ban was imposed Read More...

Porto join Manchester City in advancing in Champions League

PORTO: FC Porto joined Manchester City in advancing to the next phase of the Champions League after the two played out a goalless draw in their Group C clash on Tuesday. The point, combined with defeat for Olympiakos in France, was enough to ensure Porto finished second while City, wh Read More...

Cops accused of opening fire called for interrogation

RAUTAHAT, DECEMBER 1 Two policemen, who were accused of opening fire in Bardibas of Mahottari have been called to the district police office in Jaleshwor for interrogation. Police had fired dozens of tear gas shells and bullets to control a demonstration of angry locals who were protesting aga Read More...

Majority prevails in NCP Sectt

KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 1 Majority members' will prevailed today in the Secretariat meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was forced to agree to discuss the proposal of party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, although the PM wanted Dahal to withdraw his proposa Read More...

Call to curb violence against children

KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 1 In the context of increasing incidents of violence against children in the country, Save the Children has condemned such acts against children, particularly sexual violence against girls. Issuing a press release yesterday, Save the Children called upon federal and local g Read More...