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New website seeks to counter election misinformation

Read our guide on what to watch for in the final days of the campaign to dodge misinformation.
Caroline Amenabar
/
NPR
Read our guide on what to watch for in the final days of the campaign to dodge misinformation.

Idaho’s Secretary of State has been trying to counter election misinformation through keyword searches and social media tracking. Now it’s asking for the public’s help through a new website.

The department is asking people to report falsehoods found on social media that could prevent voters from casting ballots on November 8. This includes misleading information on polling locations and hours, voting machines, mail-in ballots and any election-related logistics.

Chad Houck, Chief Deputy Secretary of State, said there’s been an uptick in false online narratives trying to discredit the election process since 2016.

“You have individuals that are just posting things because it's something they feel strongly about. And that information may or not may or may not be accurate,” he said.

The website asks people to send screenshots of election misinformation about their voting precinct so the department can understand what is circulating on social media.

Houck said there was a tweet recently spreading a lie that ballots had been found in an Idaho river.

“That’s just that's just straight up a fallacy,” Houck said. But it’s one of the many examples his office would like to follow up on.

“So one, you always look at that information and say, okay, let's chase it to the ground if we can, and two if it's a counter-narrative that needs to go out to offset that, then we want to know about that,” he said.

The initiative is not to censor people’s speech, he said, but to make sure accurate information is available to inform the public.

“At minimum, it gives us an opportunity to put counter information proximate to it to provide a reality.”

Houck added the website had received a handful of reports per day since its launch last week.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.