Young Latino men may be ‘easy targets’ for disinformation on immigration, report says

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Media consumption habits of Latino men ages 18 to 35 make them “easy targets for racialized disinformation” about immigrants and immigration policies, according to a report released Tuesday by United We Dream, the country’s largest immigrant advocacy network.

In partnership with nonprofit media research group Harmony Labs, the study analyzed the content consumed by more than 300,000 Latinos across TV and digital platforms, in both English and Spanish, from January to August of last year.

The main focus of the analysis was to see how young Latinos encounter stories about immigration in U.S. media based on their consumption habits.

The report found that Latinas under 35 consume a wide variety of cultural channels and that they are more likely to “use TV and film to interrogate the complexity of human relationships,” according to the report. They are also more likely to seek out human interest stories about immigrants, not just immigration policy.

In contrast, Latino men who are 35 or younger “aren’t consuming much media about immigration or immigrants, and when they are, it’s incidental. … This content vacuum, however, puts them at risk of passively consuming anti-immigrant content as bystanders.”

Latino men and women over 36 were the “audience most likely to encounter polarizing and anti-immigration stories,” the report said.

Many, particularly Latino men over 36, consumed such stories primarily on TV and YouTube from right-wing sources, such as “OAN News” and “Fox & Friends,” according to the report.

Entrepreneurialism and the “hustle” mentality are among the main values that define the kind of content Latino men under 35 seek out, meaning they mostly consume immigration-related content incidentally, the report said.

“This vacuum of immigrant content along with their concerns about the economy, and penchant for individualism, make them easy targets for racialized disinformation about the role of immigrants in this country,” the researchers wrote, and “the radicalization of young Latinx men that can occur in this content vacuum by bad actors.”

In a statement, United We Dream said it “sees the anti-immigrant movement as disinformation, one that creates false narratives about immigrants and spreads lies to push racist and dehumanizing policies that separate families, deny people the full rights of citizenship, and funnel billions of dollars into harmful enforcement agencies to detain and deport our friends, families, and neighbors.”

Data from a Nielsen report published last year indicated that Latinos are more likely to receive, consume and share fake news and misinformation online compared to the general population.

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