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Teacher Guide: Disinformation and the First Amendment

An explosion caused by police munition on Jan 6, 2021
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump riot in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Reuters photographer Leah Millis

Disinformation is more pernicious and widespread today than at any other point in history, largely because of social media and the Internet. For instance, it is now widely known—and verified by the U.S. intelligence community—that Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Russian hackers released politically damaging information on the Internet and spread propaganda on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. According to a report by the University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project, Russia targeted both conservatives and liberals with its disinformation campaigns. Conservatives were served up posts about immigration, race, and gun rights, while liberal-leaning Blacks were targeted with disinformation about the electoral process.

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