La Verdadera Izquierda

Last week, we released our study detailing how La Verdadera Izquierda — a Spanish alternative blog — which spread disinformation and polarising content — had been using the Amazon Associates program to fund its activities.

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In cooperation with EFE, we exposed coordinated Twitter and Facebook accounts that grew an audience by spreading disinformation and polarising content. This network also massively promoted Amazon Marketplace links, which in case of direct sales awarded the very same network with a commission fee. 

Looking further into this, revealed that José Casado — a coordinator for the Spanish far-right VOX party — had bought one of these accounts that were already populated with followers: “I bought it because my account was blocked and it was for sale,” Casado confirmed in conversation with This indicates evidence of a possible black market for Twitter accounts readily available for usage.

Trump, the online platforms, and content moderation: A timeline

In the wake of an extraordinary week, we have put together a timeline tracking the actions and/or responses from the platforms to moderate the US president’s online content.



  • In response to Twitter’s action and the personal abuse its staff received thereafter, we released a statement, highlighting how Twitter’s move is a good example of what can be done to empower users to make an informed opinion – something especially crucial in the context of the democratic process.



  • Responding to Twitter’s second move, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a lengthy post, defending Facebook’s decision to not remove Trump’s post from its platform, while affirming that Facebook’s position is to “enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies”. 
  • Twitter applied a warning label to a replication of Donald Trump’s post that had been posted on the White House’s official Twitter account. 


Further reading:

Digital Services Act

Yesterday, the European Commission launched the public consultation and roadmaps for the forthcoming Digital Services Act. It will revolve around 6 pillars: the single market, keeping users safe online, the liability regime, platforms’ gatekeeper power, online advertising, and platform workers.

  • The roadmap on the ‘Digital Services Act: deepening the Internal Market and clarifying responsibilities for digital services’. Feedback period: 02/06/2020 – 30/06/2020
  • The roadmap on the ‘Digital Services Act package: ex ante regulatory instrument of very large online platforms acting as gatekeepers’. Feedback period: 02/06/2020 – 30/06/2020
  • The public consultation on the ‘Digital Services Act: deepening the Internal Market and clarifying responsibilities for digital services’ Feedback period: 02/06/2020 – 08/09/2020

In the news

Good reads

  • According to an Open Democracy exposé, a controversial Armenian health news website funded by US taxpayers is spreading harmful COVID-19 misinformation, including claims that vaccines currently being developed are actually “biological weapons”.
  • A BBC investigation has found that hundreds of fake or hijacked social media accounts have been pushing pro-Chinese government messages about the COVID-19 pandemic on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


  • Getting to the Source of Infodemics: It’s the Business Model – This new Ranking Digital Rights report argues that the business model of online platforms and the opaque algorithms that support them are the root cause of the platforms’ failure to stem the flow of COVID-19 mis/disinformation. 
  • Through looking at tweets related to COVID-19, views into public Facebook interactions, and other data, Kate Starbird’s new blog post details how social media and hyper-partisan online news media play complementary roles in the spread of COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Events and Announcements