Combating Disinformation and Misinformation in 21st-Century Social Movements

Thursday, July 14th, at 2:00-3:30 pm ET 

Hosted by: Shanelle Matthews

Panelists: Sabrina Joy Stevens, Joseph Phelan, Kris Hayashi, and Jacquelyn Mason

All over the world, false narratives and propaganda, including misinformation and disinformation campaigns, plague social movements organizing to wrest power from global elites. These campaigns often work to delegitimize the efforts of those challenging varying forms of racial, economic, and gendered oppression. For example, in the U.S., conservative policymakers are weaponizing old tropes that associate gay people with pedophilia—a despicable lie typically wielded by the extreme right that is now moving into mainstream conservative rhetoric—to delegitimize movements for queer and trans liberation.

Disinformation and misinformation coupled with presumably legitimate critiques have converged to create a set of anti-Black narratives that pathologize Black movement leaders while challenging and threatening the legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. These narratives include a rejection of systemic racism and identity politics as a threat to the status quo.

As the 2022 midterms approach, we expect lies about voter fraud to permeate the airways, reaffirm "The Big Lie," and continue to diminish confidence in elections and democracy. The white supremacist massacre of primarily Black people in Buffalo, NY in mid-May was motivated by replacement theory, the notion that Western elites want to "replace" and disempower white Americans, a violent lie that mainstream politicians and media spread.

In this panel, we will explore the question: How can social movements succeed against the rise of fictional narratives, propaganda, disinformation, and misinformation in the media and our daily lives?