Home > News

Putting 2020 census rumors to rest

Posted Feb. 12, 2020

graphic promoting the census
For the first time, residents will be able to respond to the census online, by phone or by mail.

Every decade, technology plays a greater role in the way the census is conducted. But in 2020, the first time anyone who wants to respond to the census online has that option, the greatest change may come from the way all of us use technology.

For the first time during a decennial census, the majority of people in the United States are using digital and social media in their everyday lives.

“The rise of digital and social media use has exponentially increased the speed of how accurate and inaccurate information can spread,” said Stephen Buckner, assistant director for communications at the U.S. Census Bureau. “We know that many people may not know what the census is because it happens only every 10 years, making it a likely target for misinformation and disinformation campaigns, which is why we’ve been actively preparing to defend against them.”

The Census Bureau is ready for these challenges.

To prevent the spread of fake, false and inaccurate information that can negatively influence 2020 Census participation and response, the Census Bureau has established the government’s first Trust and Safety Team to protect the count.

What the Census Bureau is doing:

  • Working with social media platforms such as Facebook, Microsoft, Nextdoor, Google and Pinterest to update their policies and terms of service to include census-specific activities.
  • Coordinating with YouTube and Twitter to create processes enabling the bureau to quickly identify and respond to misinformation and disinformation.
  • Collaborating with other government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission to protect everyone, especially the elderly, from scammers pretending to represent the Census Bureau.
  • Working with civil society organizations such as the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and NALEO Educational Fund to ensure they have the resources necessary to combat misinformation and disinformation in targeted communities and promote participation in the 2020 Census.
  • Working with the Better Business Bureau and AARP to protect consumers against possible scams and fraud during the count.

These partnerships will help the Census Bureau counter false information that can lead to an undercount by quickly identifying phony information and respond with factual content.

Why social media matters

More consumers than ever now receive their information from nontraditional sources. In fact, over the past few years, more people reported receiving their news from social media than from newspapers.

According to Pew Research, only 43% of people in the United States used social media during the last census in 2010, compared to 72% today.

You may dismiss what happens on social media, but an analysis by the National Institutes of Health shows it can influence our real-world behavior.

For example, imagine someone posts a message saying you are not required to respond to the census and should ignore all attempts to be counted. Or they share a post that suggests the Census Bureau will share your private data even though public disclosure is prohibited by law.

The person posting such misinformation might be a trusted friend or family member who has shared the post with their friends and followers. The number of people who may, as a result, think that responding to the census is not required or become worried about privacy grows rapidly.

The post could spread, possibly leading to low census participation and an inaccurate count or undercount of certain population groups.

The Census Bureau is ready

The stakes are high. Census results help communities get their fair share of billions of dollars in federal funds for schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs every year. The decennial census also helps determine congressional representation.

The Census Bureau will protect the count but can not do it alone. You can help make a real difference in the outcome.

How? Report inaccurate, suspicious or fraudulent information to the Census Bureau:

  • Report suspicious information and tips.
  • Reach out on verified social media accounts (@USCensusBureau) to ask questions and flag suspicious information.
  • Call the Census Bureau Customer Service Hotline at 1-800-923-8282 to report suspicious activity.

The 2020 Census will have implications for years to come. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure there is an accurate count.

Get articles like this in your inbox. Subscribe to City News.

City News

Calendar

Library to host free Orchestra concert: 2 p.m. Feb. 23, 2020; Fort Worth Public Library, 500 W. 3rd Street.

Building Standards Commission Pre-Meeting: 9 a.m. Feb. 24, 2020; City Council Conference Room 290, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas St.
View the agenda »

Building Standards Commission Meeting: 9:30 a.m. Feb. 24, 2020; City Council Chamber, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas St.
View the agenda »

Trinity Metro Board of Directors Meeting: 3:30 p.m. Feb. 24, 2020; Fort Worth Central Station, Downtown Fort Worth, 2nd Floor Community Room, 1001 Jones St.
View the agenda »

Altamesa Boulevard Sidewalks Project Meeting: 6 p.m. Feb. 24, 2020; Southwest Community Center, 6300 Welch Ave.

Canceled Disciplinary Appeal of Two-Day Suspension of Timothy Fornash: 9 a.m. Feb. 25, 2020; Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Camellia Room, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.
View the agenda »

Meet and Confer Negotiations between the City of Fort Worth and Fort Worth Police Officers Association: 2 p.m. Feb. 25, 2020; Bob Boen Public Safety Complex, Police Training Classroom No. 1135, 505 W Felix St.
View the agenda »

Canceled City Council Work Session: 3 p.m. Feb. 25, 2020; City Council Conference Room 290, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas St.

Donnelly Avenue & Sanguinet Street Sidewalks Project Meeting: 6 p.m. Feb. 25, 2020; Amon Carter Center at Lena Pope, 3200 Sanguinet St.

Canceled City Council Meeting: 7 p.m. Feb. 25, 2020; City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas St.

Warrant Forgiveness: 9 a.m. Feb. 26, 2020; Boys & Girls Club, 3123 Avenue G..

Fort Worth Sports Authority, Inc. Board Meeting: 10 a.m. Feb. 26, 2020; Fort Worth Convention Center, Executive Board Room, 1201 Houston St.
View the agenda »

Metropolitan Area EMS Authority DBA MedStar Mobile Healthcare Board of Directors: 10 a.m. Feb. 26, 2020; MedStar Mobile Healthcare, 2900 Alta Mere Drive.
View the agenda »

City Plan Commission Work Session: noon Feb. 26, 2020; City Council Conference Room 290, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas St.
View the agenda »

City Plan Commission Public Hearing: 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26, 2020; City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas St.
View the agenda »

Park and Recreation Advisory Board Work Session: 3 p.m. Feb. 26, 2020; Deborah Beggs Moncrief Garden Center, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, 3220 Botanic Ganden Blvd.
View the agenda »

Park and Recreation Advisory Board Meeting: 4 p.m. Feb. 26, 2020; Deborah Beggs Moncrief Garden Center, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.
View the agenda »

Beach & Basswood Intersection Improvements Project Meeting: 6 p.m. Feb. 26, 2020; Summerglen Library, 4205 Basswood Blvd.

Warrant Forgiveness : 9 a.m. Feb. 27, 2020; Como Community Center, 4660 Horne St.

The Regional Transportation Council Meeting: 10 a.m. Feb. 27, 2020; The Transportation Council Room, 1st Floor, North Central Texas Council of Governments, 616 Six Flags Drive, Arlington, TX 76011.
View the agenda »

Marine Creek Ranch Park Project Meeting: 6 p.m. Feb. 27, 2020; Parkview Elementary School, 6225 Crystal Lake Drive.

Deferred Compensation Oversight Committee: 9 a.m. Feb. 28, 2020; Fort Worth Credit Union Board Room, 2309 Montgomery St.
View the agenda »

View the full city calendar and current meetings.