Misinformation being aimed at Latino voters in Florida

(CNN) Florida is being called a battleground state like no other this election. For many Latino families, part of that battle is happening right inside their own homes.

Coffee is a part of daily life for Susy Calderon and her daughter, Amore. But what’s really brewing: something you rarely see inside a conservative Cuban-American home. You see, Amore is for Biden. The rest of the family: Trump

Susy said, “It has been very difficult for us, for my mom and for me, to see her defending something that is completely wrong for us because we came from a communist country 36 years ago.”

Amore explained, “What is very worrisome is how I see the Republican party or Republican propaganda almost manipulating the trauma of my people and using it as a fear tactic.”

The strong opposing views have caused tension for the family and some in their community. Much of it, experts say, fueled by rampant misinformation aimed at Latino voters, especially in Florida, where they make up about 20% of the electorate, according to Pew Research.

Many of them, Cubans and Venezuelans, who fled the socialist and communist regimes in Venezuela and Cuba.

Jacobo Licona, researcher at Equis Labs, is tracking disinformation on social media targeting the Latino community. He said, “A lot of times, it’s difficult to find out who is spreading this information. We know that there is a network of Facebook pages that tend to work together and they tend to coordinate a lot of these attacks.”

Licona said he isn’t sharing the posts his team is tracking in order to help stop the spread. But he confirmed false claims have been shared thousands of times, taking aim at candidates on the left and social movements like Black Lives Matter.

“We also see, specifically with the Latino community, a lot of them trying to build racial tensions between communities,” Licona explained.

Some of the conspiracy theories he mentions have ended up on Spanish-language radio and popular messaging apps.

“WhatsApp has always been commonly used by Latinos,” Licona said. “There is not much accountability there. It’s very hard to know what’s happening on WhatsApp because they’re closed platforms.”

WhatsApp said it is taking steps to combat misinformation. Users can send claims to special accounts that can verify information.

The twisted accusations are being echoed at official Trump campaign events for Latinos.

Alfredo Ortiz with Latinos for Trump said, “If you don’t have law and order, you have anarchy which is obviously what Soros and that entire, what i call that entire ‘regressives,’ like AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and stuff like that, just embrace.”

The Trump campaign argues voters should fear the influence of Democratic socialists, like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders over the Democratic party and Joe Biden.

On September 23, Joe Biden said, “I beat the socialist. That’s how I got elected. That’s how I got the nomination. Do I look like a socialist? Look at my career, my whole career. I am not a socialist.”

The latest poll shows Latinos in Florida are leaning toward Biden, leaving Latino voters like Susy and Amore divided on who to vote for and what information to trust but agreeing, too much is at stake for the country.

Florida has voted with the winner in every election since 1996 and all but two since 1924.


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