Disinformation literacy
for concerned people

Iowa First Night Disinfo Madness

Caucus night rolled out poorly. It was the Democrat’s first-night of the primary season and a night to shine. The Iowa Dems did anything but. They bungled. It is more than likely that an inadequately tested app was probably to blame … not Pete Buttegieg, Hilary Clinton or even the Russians.

What is one thing we knew for sure? That whatever results would ensue from Iowa primary caucus night, disinformation would run rampant. We’ve seen it in the debates. Nevertheless, the Iowa first-night disinformation was a toxic mix like we haven’t quite seen before. What we woke up to this morning likely portends more of what’s to come. Get ready.

So, what to do when we know it’s going to happen?

Turn first to trusted sources. Sure, check out to see what’s trending, but that’s only informational. What do the people who look at it all the time say? Here are the names of a few trusted experts: @noUpside, @justinhendrix, @MelissaRyan, @josh_emerson, @selectedwisdom, @RVAwonk, @conspirator0. Check them out. Follow them. After the next primary, see what they’re saying.

What could be learned from some early posts this morning?

Trend #1: Sow distrust in Democrats in general. Take any and every opportunity to generalize to the party as a whole. Iowa’s blundering on first night was an opening. This is disinformation. Take a kernel of truth and malign. There was Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager setting the tone.

Trend #2: Sow distrust in the process. Sow distrust in the mechanics of the system. It’s rigged. It’s the deep state. Whatever. Spoiler alert: Robby Mook, Hilary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager was not one of the people who was responsible for the app. It was an app that most likely had not been thoroughly enough tested. That happens all of the time in software. It is tragic that it happened for this event.

Trend #3: Sow distrust among the voters. This was actually early to trend. Right wing content publishers were pushing a story around about the Iowa voter registration numbers. This was to sow distrust before people even started voting. Sean Hannity picked this one up and ran with it, as did Gateway Pundit. What do we expect?

We can not afford to be surprised by this. Disinformation is now baked into the media channels. Sure, there were likely Russian bots propelling some of this madness further, but the primary disinformation frenzy started here. This was homegrown disinformation, meant to wreak havoc.

What’s the good news? Talented people were calling this out as it was happening, in real time. It’s up to us to pause, listen to what they’re saying and counter the disinformation by amplifying their voices. It’s up to us to amplify the what the experts are saying, we need to get better at that. They don’t get amplified enough, while disinformation floods the channels.

Be vigilant.

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