Disinformation is an “ubiquitous and foundational impediment” to the incoming Biden/Harris administration’s ability to deal with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and reverse the decay of America’s democratic institutions, according to a diverse coalition of advocacy groups.
“From the politicization of masks to virial conspiracy theories about the vaccines, our toxic information infrastructure is undermining the pandemic response and every American is paying the price,” said the nearly 50 organizations that signed an open letter to Biden/Harris.
The coalition maintains that disinformation stands as a barrier to progress on every issue they are devoted to advancing.
They blasted the “deluge of election lies” that sow chaos and division; racist and misogynist disinformation that incites domestic terrorism, threatens women, thwarts police reform and justifies cruel immigration policies; and blatant lies about abortion desinged to roll back reproductive rights.
The groups say Team Biden will find it hard to pass its agenda when the American people “are not merely polarized, but living in disparate realities with warring sets of facts.”
In their view, there needs to be a government-wide strategy to repair the broken information ecosystem.
The groups offer various proposals to Biden. They include 1) appointing a disinformation expert to the COVID-19 task force and empower the panel to brief the public and coordinate a whole-of-society response to the infodemic, 2) launching a website to serve as a hub for real-time debunking of viral disinformation, 3) directing the Dept. of Education to develop digital and media literacy programming, 4) advancing antitrust cases against the major platforms, 5) elevating the State Dept.’s Global Engagement Center to counter disinformation that threatens US democracy and that of our allies, and 6) launching a White House “Social Media for Social Good” effort to showcase innovative platform tools, algorithmic options, etc. to foster healthier public discourse.
Center for Media and Democracy, Generation Justice, Common Cause, Center for American Progress, Greenpeace, Government Accountability Project, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Jewish Women International, Guns Down America and MoveOn are among the groups to signed the Dec. 21 letter.