Bracing for a deluge of misinformation as Election Day draws closer, Colorado is stepping up its initiative to prevent deceptive tweets, doctored videos and other forms of false material from undermining elections in the state.
The effort, expanding on an operation set up this year within the office of Jena Griswold, Colorado’s secretary of state, will also run ads on social media and expand digital outreach to help voters identify foreign misinformation.
Ms. Griswold hired Nathan Blumenthal, a former counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security, to run the three-person operation, which in turn has hired outside vendors to help identify misinformation online, whether it is going viral on social media or lurking on obscure message boards.
The office will also buy Google ads against relevant search terms whenever a piece of misinformation begins to gain attention in an effort to slow its spread. For example, if someone were to claim Colorado’s ballots were lost in a fire, the office could buy ads linked to searches for “Colorado ballot fire” and get the top results, with the ads providing real information. And it is kicking off a public awareness campaign using Facebook ads that will direct voters to check the secretary’s website, using the tagline “Opinions are fun, facts are better.”
Many states have not set up operations to combat misinformation, partly because their election offices are already so overworked and underfunded.
While major social media platforms have repeatedly pledged to crack down on the spread of false information, Ms. Griswold faulted both the federal and corporate responses to the problem.
“Absolutely not enough is being done,” she said. “We have a lack of leadership in the White House and the Senate. We have good pieces of legislation just sitting in the queues that have not been moved forward.”
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