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[REPORT] Black Voter Disinformation Crisis: 3 Key Narratives Threatening 2024 Engagement

A new report from Onyx Impact, titled “The Black Online Disinformation Landscape 2024,” identifies three key narrative threats to Black voter engagement in the upcoming 2024 U.S. elections. The research, which claims to be the first comprehensive analysis of disinformation networks and narratives within and targeting Black online spaces, highlights civic disengagement, Biden’s broken promises, and stoking division as the most significant challenges.

The study examines six prominent online networks that reach or target Black Americans on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X, and YouTube. These networks include Gateway Influencers and Platforms, Far-Right Activists and Media Outlets, the Black Manosphere, Health Skeptics, Foreign Actors, and Black Extreme Nativists and Separatists.

[REPORT] Black Voter Disinformation Crisis: 3 Key Narratives Threatening 2024 Engagement

According to the report, the Far-Right Activist Network, particularly Black Far-Right Activists, spreads the most disinformation to Black communities and engages with the most misleading narratives. The research indicates that just five leading actors in this space have a potential reach of more than 11 million subscribers.

The study highlights the role of Black Gateway Influencers and Platforms in the current media environment. These figures, while not considered bad actors, are identified as critical to stemming the rising tide of disinformation and reaching Black audiences targeted by harmful narratives. The report cites focus group findings where The Breakfast Club was frequently mentioned as a news source, indicating its widespread reach and impact.

Onyx Impact’s research also points to the prevalence of anti-immigrant narratives across multiple Black disinformation networks. The report suggests that the risk of this narrative “breaking out” is high, with anti-immigrant rhetoric active across the Far-Right Activists, Black Extremists, and Foreign Actors core networks.

The study identifies ten prominent narratives across Black disinformation online spaces: 

  1. Revisionist History
  2. Civic Disengagement
  3. Anti-Immigration
  4. Voter Suppression
  5. Black Gender Wars 
  6. Anti-LGBTQ+ 
  7. Biden Broken Promises 
  8. Stoking Division 
  9. COVID-19/Health
  10. Weaponizing Diversity 

The reach and impact of these narratives were determined by the number of core networks actively engaging with each narrative and the volume of conversation across platforms.

The report offers strategic guidance for 2024, recommending developing robust strategies to engage Black Gateway Influencers immediately. It suggests that trusted messengers should appear on platforms like The Breakfast Club more frequently than figures like Candace Owens, who, according to the report notes, has experienced a rise in notoriety in Black online spaces.

Another recommendation is to identify and resource as many Black trusted messengers and media as possible. The research indicates a perceived crisis of trusted messengers in the Black community, partly caused by attacks on news media and the spread of disinformation globally.

Onyx Impact emphasizes the significance of this research in the current political environment, which it describes as ripe for the spread of disinformation in Black communities. It suggests that genuine Black voter discontent is creating an ideal social environment for disinformation to seed, grow, and ultimately disengage and disillusion voters.

The authors conclude by calling for more foundational research in this space to inform action and policy better and hold social media companies accountable for the harmful information they allow to flow across their platforms. The full report is available here.

Nii A. Ahene

Nii A. Ahene is the founder and managing director of Net Influencer, a website dedicated to offering insights into the influencer marketing industry. Together with its newsletter, Influencer Weekly, Net Influencer provides news, commentary, and analysis of the events shaping the creator and influencer marketing space. Through interviews with startups, influencers, brands, and platforms, Nii and his team explore how influencer marketing is being effectively used to benefit businesses and personal brands alike.

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