Social media can be a great way to share with friends and strangers. But it is also an easy way to spread lies and false rumors. The U.S. Census Bureau wants to make sure that doesn't happen with the 2020 census.
Experts are worried that other countries might want to disrupt the U.S. census. That could cause real problems. The census helps decide many important things about funding and politics.
In 2016, Russia used social media posts to disrupt the U.S. election. Experts worry that Russia and China could target the census.
"If you want to disrupt a democracy, you can certainly go about it by disrupting a census," said John Thompson. He used to run the Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau is working with Facebook, Twitter, and Google to try to stop lies from spreading online. There have already been false posts. They have been viewed thousands of times.
One false post claimed thieves were pretending to be census workers to get into people's homes. The lie was spread on Facebook and on a neighborhood group called Nextdoor.
The bureau got the post taken down. It didn't want people to worry about census workers who will be knocking on doors.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google now have teams to fight lies about the census. A team of census workers is also looking for false posts. The Census Bureau will post its own "fact checks" online.
But it is very hard to stop lies from spreading online. It is harder on closed sites, like private groups, than on open sites.
People in Missouri kept spreading the robber rumors even after police said they were false.
There are a few things you should know about the census that will help you avoid scams.
The Census Bureau will never ask you for your social security number. It will never ask for your bank account or credit card numbers. It will never ask for money. It will not contact you for a political party.
If a census worker comes to your door, don't be afraid. They will be wearing an ID. It will have their picture on it. It will have a mark from the Department of Commerce. It will also list a date when it is no longer good. If you are still worried about the worker's identity, you can call 1-800-923-8282.
SOURCES: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU