News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C. Mon. Feb. 22, 2021: New research shows that the US’ first Black, Caribbean American and South Asian Vice President, Kamala Harris, has become the top target for online haters.
The Wilson Center and Moonshot CVE Release Landmark Study on Online Gendered Abuse and Disinformation found that Vice-President Harris was targeted with an overwhelming amount of abuse, especially during the 2020 election campaign. Some 78% of the total data collected targeted at her.
Many abusive posts also spread false, sexualized narratives about Harris according to Nina Jankowicz, the Wilson Center’s Disinformation Fellow and lead author of the report.
Jankowicz led the study released last month analyzing more than 300,000 posts against 13 politicians in four English-speaking countries in the couple months before the U.S. election.
Harris, whose father was born in Jamaica and whose mother was born in India, was targeted most. It showed that many of the attacks and disinformation lobbed at Harris echoed tropes against Barack and Michelle Obama: that she is insufficiently Black or Indian because of her mixed-race heritage, that she cannot legally serve as vice president because her parents were immigrants, that she slept her way to the top, that she has a secret plan to steal authority from Biden and, perhaps most outlandish, that she is secretly a man.
That last lie, apparently started by the QAnon cult, involves what’s known as a “cheap fake,” a crudely doctored image of Harris alongside a man supposedly named Kamal Aroush.
Other posts involved more direct attacks using racist and sexist language and images.
Online attacks against Harris, now that she is vice president, are monitored by the Secret Service. Her aides have declined to comment other than to say threats to her and her family are taken seriously.