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Video accusing Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar of voter fraud 'targeted misinformation', researchers say Open in fullscreen

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Video accusing Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar of voter fraud 'targeted misinformation', researchers say

Omar is the target of a deliberate misinformation campaign, researchers say [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 September, 2020

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Researchers as Stanford University found that a video released by conservative activists accusing Omar of voter fraud was nothing more than a targeted campaign of misinformation.


A video released by conservative James O’Keefe in which he claimed – without discernible proof – that Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s campaign had collected ballots illegally, has been found to be a "coordinated misinformation campaign" that Donald Trump Jr was likely aware of, new research has revealed.

Researchers at Stanford University found that the claims made by the conservative activist on the Project Veritas video were unsubstantiated and made using unidentified sources.

Project Veritas had been teasing the release of the video for several days when The New York Times released an extensive report of the US President’s taxes.

According to researchers who spoke to the Times, O’Keefe and his activists originally planned to release the video on Monday, however released it on Sunday instead to time with the investigation on the president.

"It’s a great example of what a coordinated disinformation campaign looks like: pre-seeding the ground and then simultaneously hitting from a bunch of different accounts at once," said Alex Stamos, who led the research team at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

The video claimed to have evidence of Omar’s "voter fraud" and social media posts about it prior to its release asked people to sign up at “ballot-harvesting.com” to receive the so-called proof.

There was no evidence in the video that proved voter fraud.

An analysis of Donald Trump Jr’s Twitter activity suggested he may have been aware of the video in advance.

"Metadata [demonstrates] that the Donald Trump Jr. version of the video was separately uploaded and re-encoded by Twitter, indicates that the Trump campaign possibly had access to the video before the general public and raises questions of coordination," the Stanford and University of Washington researchers wrote.

The police investigating claims made in the video

Minneapolis police have stated that they are looking into the claims made in the video.

The video depicts a man collecting ballots for a Minneapolis City Council candidate – suggesting this was illegal.

However the video doesn’t make clear when the clip was filmed, and in July a judge temporarily suspended Minnesota’s ban on third parties collecting and returning completed ballots.

The clip goes on to claim individuals connected to Omar’s campaign paid voters to give blank mail-in ballots and fill them out – which would be illegal.

Such allegations come primarily from unnamed sources speaking to Project Veritas and they cannot be substantiated.

Ilhan Omar has on several occasions been the recipient of verbal attacks by the conservative elite in the US.

US President Donald Trump launched a "racist attack" against the congresswoman over her Somali background earlier this month.

The US president attended a rally in Moon Township, Pittsburgh where he accused the Somali-American politician of trying to run the country, in what is seen by critics as a racist attack.

"How about Omar of Minnesota?" he told the crowd.

"We're going to win the state of Minnesota because of her, they say. She's telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How's your country doing? She's going to tell us - she's telling us how to run our country," he said.

During a rally in Minnesota the same month, Trump called Omar an "extremist" and accused the Democrats of wanting to allow Somali and Yemeni refugees who he said were coming from "Jihadist regions".

He also called Somali nationals he deported "hardened criminals" who are "back in their country where they can do all the complaining they want".

Ilhan Omar is no fan of the US president. During one lengthy interview, she referred to Trump as a "racist", and said comments he has made about her fuels further racist attacks.

"I happen to embody multiple marginal identities. I'm a woman, I'm black, I'm a refugee, an immigrant, a Muslim and I wear a hijab. And all of those are identities that have been vilified by the right... and weaponised by Donald Trump," the 37-year-old told The Independent at the time.

"For me, that understanding allows me to be resolved in the ways in which I unapologetically show up, advocate for policies that make our country a more equitable society."

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