This election season, like the one before, saw much sound and fury over “Spanish-language disinformation”, which is ultimately code for the suppression of conservative Hispanics online and on social media. But how will tech giant Facebook respond now that there’s a blatant instance of actual Spanish-language disinformation on its platform?
The campaign account for Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) features this ad, which accuses GOP opponent Adam Laxalt of celebrating the destruction of Hispanic jobs and businesses during the Covid lockdowns:
ADAM LAXALT, WAY OUT OF CONTEXT: I think the good news is that now we’re a year (unintelligible), a lot of those jobs never came back. A lot of those Hispanic small businesses never reopened.
Sounds terrible, much more so over that sad piano track. But is that what Laxalt actually said, or did Facebook take the Cortez Masto campaign’s representations at face value?
Here is the transcript of the portion of Laxalt’s remarks on the Steak For Breakfast Podcast released on January 28th, 2022 that was cited in the Cortez-Masto ad. The words read quite differently once they’re viewed in their full context:
LAXALT: All of those strip jobs are lost. And so I'm thinking, all right, well, finally, all these voters are gonna blame the Democrats for these terrible lockdown policies, right? Well, you guys may remember the Democrats message at the time was, [it’s] Donald Trump's fault. He's not doing enough for COVID.
LAXALT: It's his fault why you lost your job. And I was thinking at the time, like, God, there's no way anyone's gonna buy that. But apparently, you know, some slice of voters really thought it was his fault. I think the good news is that now we’re a year (unintelligible), a lot of those jobs never came back, a lot of those Hispanic small businesses never reopened, and guess who is in charge? We have a Democrat governor, a Democrat House, a Democrat assembly, a Democrat President, Democrat Senate, Democrat House of Representatives. It’s 100% their fault. And so the media can't cover for them. They're going to try, we all know, but the media can't do what it did in 2020 and basically blame the pandemic on Republicans. And so, we're seeing an awakening here. I think people are really, really fed up. We're one of only a handful of states that still have mask mandates. You know, you walk into these places, you're like, God, how are we still putting on masks? Considering all the information we have about masks.
First of all, Laxalt is making a point about how the regime media cannot shield Democrats from facing accountability over the destruction of jobs along the Vegas Strip and Hispanic small businesses due to covid lockdowns. That much is clear to anyone with an elementary level of auditory and/or reading comprehension.
In order to make the ad all the more grievous and inflammatory, the Cortez Masto campaign cuts the context-giving “...and guess who’s in charge?” from Laxalt’s remarks. Furthermore, the transcript is altered to show Laxalt’s remarks as one sentence, when it is clearly bits and pieces of several sentences. Laxalt is thus falsely depicted as a monster cheering Hispanic job losses.
This is an egregious instance of deliberate disinformation that is willfully targeted at Spanish-speaking users of social media.
But Cortez-Masto might want to call her own office, given what she said to Facebook on July 29th, 2021:
We write to express our serious concerns regarding the increasing rate of Spanish and other non-English language disinformation across Facebook’s platforms and your lack of transparency regarding efforts to limit the spread of this harmful content for all languages. We urge you to release specific and clear data demonstrating the resources you currently devote to protect non-English speakers from misinformation, disinformation, and illegal content on your platforms.
Serious concerns, she said! Her subsequent press release crowed:
The first and only Latina in the Senate, Cortez Masto is committed to combating misinformation. In May, she sent a letter to the Biden Administration urging them to combat health disinformation and ensure accurate vaccine information reaches Latino communities nationwide. The Senator also called on online platforms like Facebook and Twitter to take further measures to stop the spread of voter-related disinformation and led bipartisan legislation to fund research in detecting “deepfakes,” online videos that realistically mimic a person’s identity.
Cortez Masto has an opportunity to stop the spread of voter-related disinformation by removing her own campaign’s disinformative ad from social media. Should she not do so, Facebook can prove its own commitment to the eradication of Spanish-language disinformation from its platforms by flagging and removing the ad.
Failure to do so proves that the interest in removing speech deemed to be disinformation only cuts one way, and is therefore hypocritical.