A scholarly paper recently published by Harvard University’s Harvard Kennedy School accuses the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) movement of encouraging Black voters to not vote for Democrats. According to the authors, an analysis of tweets and social media postings from ADOS founders and followers reveal that ADOS is committing “disinformation creep” to discourage the Black Democrat vote.
ADOS promotes reparations for Native Black Americans.
The paper, entitled “Disinformation creep: ADOS and the strategic weaponization of breaking news,” was written by Mutale Nkonde, Maria Y. Rodriguez, Leonard Cortana, Joan K. Mukogosi, Shakira King, Ray Serrato, Natalie Martinez, Mary Drummer, Ann Lewis, and Momin M. Malik. Half of the authors are members of MoveOn, a progressive public policy advocacy group and political action committee formed in 1998 that has a membership of millions.
The authors said they conducted a “descriptive content analysis” from a sample of 534,000 scraped tweets, supplemented with access to 1.36 million tweets, from accounts that used the #ADOS hashtag between November 2019 and September 2020.
The ADOS political movement was founded in 2016 by former Democratic party staffer Yvette Carnell and lawyer Antonio “Tone” Moore to represent the interests of Black Americans who are descended from Africans enslaved in the U.S. in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The Harvard report on ADOS stated, “We find that the ADOS network strategically uses breaking news events to discourage Black voters from voting for the Democratic party, a phenomenon we call disinformation creep. Conversely, the ADOS network has remained largely silent about the impact of the novel coronavirus on Black communities, undermining its claims that it works in the interests of Black Americans.”
The authors said they classified the social media tactics ADOS uses as “disinformation creep” because it is a “method of combining legitimate grievances along with slight factual distortions and reinterpretations of breaking news events that culminate in a contradictory worldview, at odds with the interests the worldview purports to support.”
The report explained how the Russian government has a long history of using disinformation creep and hints that ADOS may be a tool of Russia to discourage Black voters from supporting Democratic candidates.
But ADOS insists its content is organic and adamantly rejected even the possibility of Russian origins for any ADOS content, the report stated.
The authors argued, however, that ADOS “strategically leveraged breaking news events that highlight the (very real) impacts of structural racism” to discourage native-born Black Americans from voting for politicians on the top Democratic ticket and to instead vote Republican.
ADOS has pushed back against the report and issued a statement of its own.
ADOS called the report “a clear attempt to use the Ivy League institution’s esteemed name to legitimize an ongoing smear campaign directed at ADOS.” It dismissed the report as more of an “opinion paper than a scholarly journal article” and complained that it included an “extensive list of factual errors.”
In the statement, the founders of ADOS claimed they back political candidates, regardless of party, who are “attentive to our two-pronged agenda: our group’s need to recieve redress in the form of reparations for the particular experience of multigenerational oppression we have endured, and the rectification of the racialized barriers to access that prevent so many Black Americans from being able to participate in national life as full citizens.”
ADOS is demanding “a formal apology from Harvard and that the publisher issue a full and timely retraction of this document.”
In a since-deleted tweet, Deebo @DeeboDown posted: “This ‘study’ is a disinformation campaign disguised as a study on disinformation.”
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