Disinformation literacy
for concerned people

Online or in the mail, the fake Census is disinformation

This article contains a few important points related to the upcoming Census:

  1. Fake “Congressional Census 2020” surveys are being sent by mail by the RNC to Americans and some are mistaking these for the actual Census
  2. Fake “Congressional Census 2020” surveys were being promoted by the President and Vice President online through Facebook
  3. Anyone who has questions should be encouraged to turn to neutral, trusted sources such as their local libraries

Fake Congressional Census 2020 Mailers

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has been sending out fundraising requests disguised as official Census forms for a while. There were reports of the RNC Census surveys landing in mailboxes across the country last year. Reports of the 2020 fake Census forms starting increasing in February. Forms were reported arriving at homes in states across the country — California, Illinois, Montana. People are reporting them here, in Westchester County.

Census outreach volunteers are reporting that some believe they have already completed the Census because they completed one of these forms.

The RNC mailers display the words “2020 Congressional Census” in bold, block letters across the form and arrive in an official envelope that reads: DO NOT DESTROY – OFFICIAL DOCUMENT. Not surprisingly people believe this is an official Census form.

Were these mailings targeted to certain geographical areas? Of course they were.

Fake Congressional Census 2020 Facebook Ads from the President

This past week, Facebook took down ads that had been sent usingTrump’s Make America Great Again Committee pushing the same fake Census surveys online, via Facebook. Judd Legum’s reporting broke this story, which led Facebook to reverse its controversial policy about political ads and take the ads down.

A visit to the Facebook Ads Library and a search for “Make America Great Again Committee Congressional Census 2020” showed that more than 3000 of these ads had been targeted and pushed to Facebook users around the country. As a side note, Facebook has made its Ad Library open to the public and searchable for ads after 2018.

The Make America Great Again posts had been pushed to Facebook users on March 3rd and 4th, coinciding with the time when the US Census would start sending notifications to people’s homes.

You can click on the details for any ad in the Ad Library to view the content and see its reach. This is true even if an ad has been taken down as in the case here:

Data from Facebook users who interact with these posts – even just liking, sharing, commenting – become part of Trump’s vast data archive. Completing the online form will feed the Make America Great Again Committee even more personal data and statistics that can be cycled back into Facebook for further future targeting.

Census Questions? Go to trusted sources. Become a trusted source.

The content was exposed quickly and Facebook took the posts down. That is positive.

The President and Vice President of the United States are pushing fake Census 2020 surveys via Facebook in the same period that the actual Census notifications are going out in the mail. That is alarming.

This is a Census year, distrust of government is at an all time high. The GOP’s push to include a citizenship question dominated news of the 2020 Census last year. ICE is in our cities.

Municipalities with high numbers of “hard to count residents” are poised for an undercount. An undercount leads to a loss of essential Federal funds for the next 10 years and potential losses in Congressional representation.

If you have questions about the Census, seek out trusted sources. Most libraries and community centers are involved with the 2020 Census efforts are equipped to provide answers. Seek out your town or county’s Complete Count Committee. The official Census 2020 department has a vast website. If you’re reading this from Westchester, the Westchester County Complete Count Committee has a website.

And in doing so, you can become a trusted source. Pass the real information on.

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