Written by: Lauren Wolfe -
Over the summer Hutch United began putting together a weekly digest. The focus of the digest is to uplift Black voices and support the Black lives matter movement by providing resources for readers to learn and act on. This week the Coop guest-edited the HU Black Lives Matter Digest, focusing on the intersection between technology, the upcoming election, and racism. If you’re a part of the Hutch United listserv you may have already seen this, if not you can view the digest below.
Hutch United Black Lives Matter Digest #18
This week the newscycle has been gripped by the presidential debates, the president’s failure to denounce white supremacy during the debate, and the president and many of his staff members contracting COVID-19. In short, the presidential election has become even more chaotic. For this digest we’ll focus on the upcoming election, Black voter suppression, and how social media influences these topics.
This week the UK news station, Channel 4, obtained a large data cache used by the 2016 Trump campaign. This database contained the data of 200 million American voters and analysis shows that the Trump campaign used this database to systematically target voters in key swing states with anti-Clinton ads to try and deter them from voting. Black voters were disproportionately targeted for deterrence and Jamal Watkins of the NAACP has branded this tactic as modern day voter suppression.
The leak of this database reveals the huge amount of data available on each person in the United States and how that data can be harvested without our knowledge, analyzed, and weaponized against us. It also highlights the linkage between technology, it’s implementation and the upholding of white supremacy.
The Trump voter deterrence campaign is only one example of how social media is being harnessed to manipulate users. Many are calling on Facebook to address how the platform is being used to influence elections across the globe. Whistleblower Sophie Zhang wrote extensively on Facebook’s failure to protect democratic processes abroad from coordinated disinformation campaigns.
Watch This TED Talk by Joy Buolamwini on how she is fighting bias in algorithms. She’s a poet, computer scientist, and activist who most recently made news for getting Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM to pause their work on facial recognition technology that they sell to law enforcement.
Learn all about how bias is embedded into algorithms by perusing this reading list curated by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, a professor of information studies at UCLA who’s best known for her book The Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.
Follow the work being done at the Mozilla Foundation, specifically regarding the 2020 elections. There are petitions to sign, posts on how to avoid misinformation, and information on how to register to vote.
Donate to the Black Voters Matter Fund, an organization working to empower Black communities and fight voter suppression of all forms.
The Coop and Hutch United
- Learn more about Hutch United and join their listserv to recieve the Black Lives Matter Digest along with other updates directly to your inbox (internal link).
- If you or your lab would like to get involved with guest editing the digest fill out this form.