Imagine the following familiar scenario: your Uncle Remy, known for his prolific Facebook activity, shares an article you know isn’t true. What’s the best course of action — shaming him, sending him a message with fact-checking resources, commenting publicly on his post listing the story’s inaccuracies, or flagging the post as inappropriate?
That’s one of the questions in a new online quiz about election disinformation created by PEN America, the national nonprofit dedicated to literature, free expression, and human rights.
The quiz, “What To Expect When You’re Electing,” measures your ability to make smart election decisions on and offline. The prompts are designed to test your knowledge of false information on social media — like distinguishing bots from real people or detecting misleading ads — as well as your grasp of voting logistics: can the president delay Election Day because of the pandemic? If you’re early voting by mail, how soon should you send your ballot?
Today, October 9, is the last day to register to vote in New York City, and other voter registration deadlines are fast approaching across the country. The importance of making sure your ballot is counted — especially as the threat of voter suppression looms over this year’s results — cannot be understated.
But countering the proliferation of disinformation, ensuring access to the facts, and checking the current administration’s power over our vote may be just as important.
Disinformation “threatens our democracy and breaks down voters’ trust in our electoral process,” Nora Benavidez, Director of US Free Expression Programs at PEN America, told Hyperallergic.
“Disinformation about our electoral process runs rampant, from littering our social feeds to being promoted by political figures at the highest levels of office in this country,” said Benavidez.
“Part of PEN America’s effort to combat this crisis in public trust is to empower voters to make sense of what they’re reading,” she added. “So, take the quiz, test your skills, learn new tips for how to spot election disinformation. And, above all, pledge to be a credible resource among your friends and family. Each of us can be a stopgap to stem the spread of disinformation.”