MITRE SQUINT™ App Helps Election Officials in 11 States Spot Incorrect Election Information
McLean, Va., and Bedford, Mass., October 8, 2020—Election officials in 11 states are using the free MITRE SQUINT™ app to spot social media posts featuring incorrect and misleading information about elections that could discourage registered voters from showing up at the polls. These include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Dakota, Virginia, Washington State, and West Virginia.
"Social See Something, Say Something," or SQUINT™, offers a fast, reliable way for election officials to report and correct inaccurate information that appears on social media. With a single click on a smartphone or keyboard, SQUINT instantly generates a report that can be shared with peers to alert them to problematic posts.
These reports can be used to strengthen a take-down request to officials at social media channels. They also help election officials spot patterns of concern so they can communicate proactively with voters and officials at social media channels.
“State and local election officials were overburdened even before they faced the challenge of inaccurate information and influence campaigns on social media,” said Emily Frye, co-director of MITRE’s election integrity initiative. “We’re pleased to see SQUINT making an impact on helping maintain public trust and confidence in their election systems.”
MITRE designed SQUINT, which launched in February 2020, to correct distortions about election processes and infrastructure. It is not intended to spot misinformation in campaign messaging or statements about candidates.
MITRE also makes the app available to nonprofits focused on election issues and preserving constitutional democracy. Organizations using the app include Arizona State University’s Laboratory 5, the National Governors Association, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Internet Security, Global Cyber Alliance, New Majority Voters, and the League of Women Voters.
The app is also available to vendors that are part of the election ecosystem, including Election Systems & Software of Omaha.
“It’s exciting that we're able to leverage MITRE's abilities to fight misinformation,” said Scott Bates, Connecticut’s deputy secretary of state. “Having SQUINT as a free resource has helped significantly expand our ability to monitor inaccurate and misleading information about the election process. They are great partners helping us achieve our mission."
“We are very happy to partner with MITRE and have encouraged other leagues to partner with MITRE in the SQUINT program,” said Anu Sahai, co-president of the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area in Virginia. “There is so much distrust of the media that having a nonpartisan ally like SQUINT from a highly trusted entity like MITRE is reassuring.”
In one example, SQUINT users spotted tweets that referenced a newspaper story that had erroneously stated that a new Illinois law would require counties to have just one polling place open. MITRE’s analysis found that bots were used to automatically amplify the article. The newspaper later corrected the story.
In Michigan, SQUINT users spotted misleading posts that stated that nearly 72% of precincts had a mismatch between the number of absentee voters and ballots cast during the August primary, indicating election fraud in races for local government and U.S. congressional seats. However, the largest discrepancy between voters and ballots was five, in 14% of the precincts.
In another example, SQUINT users spotted posts about text messages with a link from “votedotgop.org” that claimed that recipients could vote online. MITRE’s analysis found that the texts did not originate from an organization affiliated with the Republican Party and were a scam to steal money under the guise of asking for a donation.
For more information, email SQUINT@mitre.org.
MITRE’s mission-driven teams are dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. Through our public-private partnerships and federally funded R&D centers, we work across government and in partnership with industry to tackle challenges to the safety, stability, and well-being of our nation.
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