Several State Democratic Party Chairs Want 2020 Candidates to Agree On Social Media Non-Aggression Pact
“developing a collaborative approach to battling disinformation, illicit campaign tactics, bots, trollfarms, fake accounts, altered text, audio, and video, any and all inauthentic speech”
Politico obtained a letter that says several early primary state Democratic Party chairs want the 2020 candidates to sign a non-aggression pact, which means they cannot wage war against each other on social media.
“We would like your support in recommending the ASDC [Association of State Democratic Committees] work towards developing a collaborative approach to battling disinformation, illicit campaign tactics, bots, trollfarms, fake accounts, altered text, audio, and video, any and all inauthentic speech in our Presidential Primary process,” wrote the four chairs, including New Hampshire’s Ray Buckley, Iowa’s Troy Price, South Carolina’s Trav Robertson and Nevada’s William McCurdy.
“The Association of State Democratic Committees, the Democratic National Committee and the Presidential campaigns can and must work together in preventing the pollution of our discourse.”
The letter continues: “Further, we want the campaigns to commit to report illicit activity they uncover to social media platforms, and when necessary, to law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security.”
The letter marks a significant attempt to shape the tactics and tenor of political discourse as the Democratic primary plays out on digital platforms. The intent is to forge an agreement laying out norms and rules the campaigns should follow with regard to disinformation tactics and cybersecurity.
Those four states have a major role in the primaries, especially Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two states to hold primaries.
This will not stop others from engaging in smearing tactics. The letter comes on the heels of another report from Politico that showed “a widespread disinformation campaign targeting 2020 candidates is already underway on social media.” The report claimed that this “campaign included fake, racist and sexist memes targeting the candidates over various social media platforms, some of it designed to divide and sow chaos within the party.”
Party chairs and others have welcomed this initiative:
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said he and other party chairs have discussed a variety of ways to avoid the use of illicit tactics by the 2020 campaigns.
“I think after what happened in 2016 and what we saw of the foreign state actors play in the race, we want to make sure our process is as fair and transparent as possible,” Price said. “We’re wanting to make sure the primary is really, truly a conversation about the values of our country. We want to make sure that continues to be the case throughout the primary.”
Simon Rosenberg, who ran the campaign to counter disinformation for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2018 midterms, has led the call for the pact among the 2020 campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Rosenberg noted that political parties in Europe recently agreed to such a non-aggression pact with regard to disinformation warfare.
“If we know the campaigns aren’t doing it, it’s going to be much easier to find it and make it go away. If this becomes widespread, it will become truly impossible to root out what’s coming from foreign powers,” Rosenberg said in an interview.
“There’s something bigger than all of us here, and that’s our democracy. Democrats should make a clear stand, understanding that if we don’t set clear norms and rules soon, we could see a proliferation of this illicit tactics that could do permanent and lasting harm to our democracy and other democracies throughout the world.”
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