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Voter Suppression in the Spanish General Election
In light of Sunday’s election, recent investigations conducted by El País and eldiario.es (articles in Spanish) revealed voter suppression campaigns that had been active before the official start of the campaign on 1st November. We summarised their findings, and here are the key takeaways:
- The campaigns spread their messages by targeting citizens with advertisements on fake Facebook pages and by placing posters on the streets of left-leaning cities.
- Some advertisements were critical of socialist party PSOE, while others of left-wing Unidas Podemos, centre-right Ciudadanos, or the far-right VOX party.
- Other advertisements encouraged abstention from voting by the use of fake appeals from Ciudadanos, PSOE, Unidas Podemos, and Más País.
- The investigations alluded to the possibility that associates of right-wing Popular Party may have been responsible for the campaigns.
Despite the focus on the risk of foreign interference in the British general election, the UK government has blocked the release of an investigation into Russian interference in British politics — a move regarded as “inexplicable and shameful” by Hilary Clinton. It’s been two weeks since announcement of the election and there’s already a batch of mis— and disinformation circulating both on— and offline:
- BBC News reported on how a misleading story about Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson’s husband went viral.
- The Liberal Democrats have come under fire for misleading citizens in campaign leaflets.
- The Conservatives were slammed by Full Fact for a doctored video that went viral, showing Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer failing to answer a question on Brexit in a TV interview. Facebook later confirmed that this video wouldn’t break its ad rules.
- First Draft has a concise first summary of its CrossCheck project on the UK general election.
In the news
- In an interview given to CNBC, EU Commissioner Věra Jourová affirmed that the EU will introduce rules for more transparency in political campaigning, “so people know who is behind the campaigning, who pays (for) it, and what are the interests”. Relating to this, Google and Facebook are now considering a ban on micro targeted political ads.
- The introduction of the US Senate’s Filter Bubble Transparency Act has been met with a raised eyebrow. Still, in speaking to The Verge, Eli Pariser — the person who coined the term ‘filter bubble’ — affirmed its importance in getting Americans to think about and understand the basics of how algorithms work.
- In Trump’s Twitter Feed: Conspiracy-Mongers, Racists and Spies: The New York Times has examined President Trump’s interactions with Twitter since he took office, reviewing over 11,000 tweets and the hundreds of accounts he has retweeted, exposing how the president “spends significant time mingling with extremists, impostors and spies”.
- There’s a new Center for International Media study that has mapped online disinformation in Pakistan’s 2018 general election. The report examines different forms of disinformation that circulated online in the lead up to the 2018 elections, as well as its impact on the country’s political discourse.
- Freedom House has released its annual Freedom on the Net report and the picture is bleak. For the ninth consecutive year, global internet freedom has declined. The report also reveals how disinformation is boosting authoritarianism — both online and offline.
- Last week Avaaz published a report titled US 2020: Another Facebook Disinformation Election, which revealed that most of the fake news sources were individuals (39%), or non-official political pages (35%).
- The University of Austin in Texas seeks a Professor for Global Internet, Media and (Dis)Information.
- The German Marshall Fund of the United States is looking to add three new additions to its Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative team: a Research Assistant, a Policy Manager, and a Deputy Director.
- Fire Eye is hiring a Russian-speaking Information Operations Threat Intelligence Analyst.