American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) founders Antonio Moore and Yvette Carnell are suing Harvard University, claiming the school defamed them in a 2021 paper that suggested that the two reparation advocates worked to suppress Black votes, downplayed the impact of covid-19 on African Americans, and have ties to Russian disinformation and bot campaigns.
An Internet bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet, usually with the intent to emulate human activity, such as messaging, on a large scale. There were allegations that Russian bots were used in the 2020 presidential campaign to boost votes for Donald Trump.
According to court papers, Carnell is listed as the plaintiff and Moore is named as a party. The lawsuit is seeking “compensatory damages…in connection with the publishing, endorsing, and mass distribution” of the article entitled “Disinformation creep: ADOS and the strategic weaponization of breaking news.” It was published on Jan. 18, 2021, Harvard University’s Harvard Kennedy School.
After the publication at the decidedly anti-ADOS, the Harvard article accused ADOS of spreading misinformation. Moore and Carnell fought back and demanded a retraction.
The lawsuit accused Harvard of ignoring its “duty of reasonable care to ensure the truth and credibility of its publication.” It also stated that the university also ignored requests for retractions “for over a year.”
The article was retracted on Dec. 20, 2021, by Harvard University Journal. After receiving complaints about the article, the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review Editorial Staff said they “found flaws in the methodology, as well as discrepancies between the data and the findings reported by the authors, resulting in unsubstantiated conclusions drawn from their analyses.”
In a 2021 letter directed to the university, ADOS said, “At a time when our wealthiest colleges and universities ought to be reckoning with the distinct role that slavery played in creating and sustaining them and working with Black communities outside of academia to secure racial justice, it is regrettable to see Harvard University using its institutional might to try and discredit and libel activists most committed to that cause.”
The letter continued that the article was “a clear attempt to use the Ivy League institution’s esteemed name to legitimize an ongoing smear campaign directed at the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) movement. The report ascribes a familiar set of demonstrably false motivations to our political advocacy, with the authors frequently substituting subjective claims, innuendo, and outright lies for the sort of empirically-backed assertions one would expect to find in a publication from such a prestigious university.”
Photo by Sora Shimazaki: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-wooden-gavel-5668473/