Misinformation and disinformation can be used to disenfranchise voters and erode public confidence in the legitimacy of our elections. As we observed in the United States in 2016, and in numerous other countries since, the spread of viral misleading content can diminish trust in the results of electoral contests, and in the integrity of democratic processes and leadership transitions overall. An increasing percentage of voters this November will look for real-time election information on social media, and election misinformation and disinformation on social media is a significant threat to ensuring the integrity of the upcoming presidential election. In the United States, over 10,000 individual jurisdictions are responsible for election administration: presently, there is no centralized support to aid this front line in identifying and responding to emerging election-related disinformation.
The Election Integrity Partnership is a coalition of research entities focused on supporting real-time information exchange between the research community, election officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, and social media platforms. Our objective is to detect and mitigate the impact of attempts to prevent or deter people from voting or to delegitimize election results. This is not a fact-checking partnership to debunk misinformation more generally: our objective explicitly excludes addressing comments that may be made about candidates’ character or actions and is focused narrowly on content intended to suppress voting, reduce participation, confuse voters as to election processes, or delegitimize election results without evidence.
The foundational Partnership consists of four of the nation’s leading institutions focused on analysis of mis- and disinformation in the social media landscape: the Stanford Internet Observatory and Program on Democracy and the Internet, Graphika, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. We will be working with stakeholders in civil society as well as election officials to find instances of election-related misinformation, analyze reports from public sector and NGO partners, and route our findings to the appropriate parties to mitigate the impact. Tips on potential disinformation will come from multiple sources, including from local election officials via existing coordination channels. We will do so transparently and in a nonpartisan manner, sharing up-to-the-minute findings and rapid analysis through a web portal and official social media channels.
Our hope is that this Partnership will provide actionable support for election officials and other partners who are on the front lines of providing accurate information to the electorate, as well as increased transparency for the general public into real threats of election-related misinformation and disinformation this election.
We would like to thank the Knight Foundation and Craig Newmark Philanthropies for their support of this effort.
Public officials and voter-protection organizations can reach the Partnership at email@example.com