July 05, 2022

Abortion disinformation is growing and dangerously divisive, experts say

Featuring Dr. Kyleanne Hunter

Source: CyberScoop

Journalist Suzanne Smalley

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter account struck an urgent tone the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s historic abortion ruling. She implored her 968,000 followers to have the “fortitude to act” against Department of Defense leaders for refusing to recognize the court’s decision, which eliminates the constitutional right to an abortion.

But DOD leaders never stated they would ignore the court’s ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson case.

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The Taylor Greene tweet injected hysteria into the pedestrian statement from Austin and harnessed a legitimate sounding fake news source to imply trustworthiness, both key ingredients for spreading disinformation, said Kyleanne Hunter, a senior social scientist at the RAND Corporation.

BNN Newsroom is nothing but an automated service that creates headlines by pulling from prominent officials’ tweets, Hunter said. In this case, she noted, the far-right objects to DOD policy, which says that under federal law service members can still get an abortion in cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s health is at risk. But instead of attacking that point head on, a much more exaggerated lie was created and spread to discredit the agency’s leadership, Hunter said.D

OD Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert Cisneros, Jr. issued a memo Tuesday that said regardless of state law the DOD will continue to follow federal law for service members. Hunter believes the memo has helped to further fuel the disinformation targeting DOD.

The policy described in the memo “got twisted into now having a sitting member of Congress saying the DOD is undermining a Supreme Court decision,” Hunter said. “It’s a complete misinterpretation of what’s there.”

Hunter, also a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, specializes in disinformation involving women in the military and said there is some evidence of foreign intervention through bots helping to spread these claims.

“It’s not because they’re [foreign influence operators] typically wanting to target pregnancy policy or are typically wanting to target women in the military,” Hunter said. “It’s a hot-button, contentious issue in the United States that can agitate and divide us.”

Read the full story and more from CyberScoop.

Authors

  • Dr. Kyleanne Hunter

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Dr. Kyleanne Hunter, PhD, is a Marine Corps combat veteran with multiple combat deployments as an AH-1W “Super Cobra” attack pilot. She finished her active duty time in the Ma...