HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Ahead of the mid-term elections, Connecticut is among several states that are putting money into uncovering false and misleading information about elections online. Some say this is government infringement.
Before the 2020 election, the secretary of state’s office hired a consultant to monitor social media.
“That analyst was looking out throughout all social media and the dark net and looking to see where there might be lies about how to vote, how to register, where to vote, when to vote, because there are people out there that want to cause confusion,” said Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates.
The analyst flagged a false tweet. It said a tractor-trailer carrying ballots had crashed in Shelton, sending thousands of ballots onto the highway. That was not true.
“It has been the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations, have been unified in their belief that foreign powers are trying to spread misinformation about America’s election system. Really undermine credibility in elections which are at the core of our democracy,” Bates said.
Bates said the consultant was able to contact Twitter and alert them and the tweet was taken down.
Connecticut is now looking to hire an elections misinformation security analyst for $150,000 a year. You can read the job description below.
“They’ll get to work making sure that no misinformation about Connecticut elections gets out there,” Bates said.
Most of the concern on election integrity is coming from Democratically controlled states.
Colorado and California have these analysts working with the Department of Homeland Security to look for patterns on the internet to expose lies surrounding voting.
Republicans say while the discussion is worthy, where is the transparency?
“At a time when people are having difficulties putting food on the table, this is how Connecticut prioritizes the money. So we’re going to spend $150,000 for somebody to troll the internet,” said State Representative Vincent Candelora, the Republican House Minority Leader.
Candelora is also concerned about oversight.
“This appears like it is going to be government. The Democrat Secretary of State’s office participating in elections and censoring free speech,” Candelora said.
Wesleyan University political science Professor Erika Franklin Fowler said disinformation is distinguished from misinformation in that it is intentionally created to mislead.
In a statement to News 8, Fowler said the following: “How effective these efforts will be is another question given the complexities of the task and the fact that ultimately the power to take the information down resides with the platforms themselves.”
However, she said tracking the dark web locally makes sense.
The state will spend $2 million to market how to properly vote and to keep your vote secure. They will also hire this new position this summer.