Right-wing disinformation campaigns are targeting Latinos in Spanish Facebook and WhatsApp groups



Mark Zuckerberg wearing a suit and tie: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images


© The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

  • Largely right-wing campaigns are spreading misinformation regarding democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris online, per a report in MIT Technology Review.
  • Spanish-language Facebook and WhatsApp group users have reported seeing messages like “Biden = Socialism” and that Kamala Harris supports abortions “minutes before birth,” both of which are untrue. 
  • Joe Biden’s success among Latino voters in swing states greatly impacts his chance of winning the election.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Latinos — a voting bloc that could decide the 2020 election — are getting hit with false information on Spanish-language Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

Largely right-wing disinformation campaigns, or ads that spread false or exaggerated information, are targeting Hispanic-Americans online, the MIT Technology Review Reported. Users reported seeing repetitive messaging of Kamala Harris supporting abortion “up to minutes before birth,” which she has never said according to fact-check site Snopes.

One Facebook group “Cubanos por Donald Trump” posted a photo of democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Miami’s Little Haiti Cultural Center claiming he “kneels before foreign leaders,” despite not in Haiti or meeting a Haitian leader in the picture, MIT reported.

The publication also reported that two separate Republican ads have spread messages like “Real Catholics can’t be Democrats” and “Biden = Socialism” online. 

Gaining Latino voters is crucial for Joe Biden, particularly in three battleground states, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, where they comprise 20%, 24%, and 30% of the voting population, respectively. Last month, polls showed Biden struggling to appeal to Latino voters in Florida, and the Associated Press reported his team acknowledged he may not get the same share of the vote as Hillary Clinton did in 2016. 

At the same

Facebook updates hate speech policy to ban Holocaust denial

Oct. 12 (UPI) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday that the company will update its hate speech policy to ban Holocaust denial.

Zuckerberg made the announcement in a Facebook post.

“We’ve taken down posts that praise hate crimes or mass murder, including the Holocaust. But with rising anti-Semitism, we’re expanding our policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well,” the post read. “If people search for the Holocaust on Facebook, we’ll start directing you to authoritative sources to get accurate information.”

The update reverses Facebook’s earlier policy on the issue.

In 2018, Zuckerberg said in a Recode Decode podcast interview that the social media company does not want to ban Holocaust denial posts because people should be able to make unintentional mistakes.

“I don’t think they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” Zuckerberg said on the podcast at the time.

Facebook Vice President of Content Policy Monika Bickert released a statement on the policy change.

“Today’s announcement marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services,” Bickert said in the statement. “Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people. According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.”

Bickert added enforcement of the updated policy wouldn’t happen overnight since it takes time “to train our reviewers and systems on enforcement.”

Bickert also said that online attacks against many groups are increasing worldwide, according to organizations that study trends in hate speech, and that Facebook has taken several steps to remove such content.

Among those steps, Facebook has banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations

Facebook bans Holocaust-denial content after allowing it for years

  • Facebook announced Monday it was changing its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
  • The company has faced criticism for more than a decade over its refusal to moderate anti-Semitic content that distorts or denies the Holocaust, when Nazis and their allies systematically killed 6 million Jews, happened.
  • In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Facebook has attempted to mitigate criticism that it fails to prevent the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation on its platform. Just last week, Facebook said it banned QAnon accounts across its platforms.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook has banned Holocaust-denial content from the platform after years of criticism over its refusal to take action against such anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Facebook announced Monday it was updating its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”

The policy change marks an abrupt about-face on Facebook’s refusal, for more than a decade, to remove content from its platform that denies the existence of the Holocaust and the genocide of millions of Jews and other minority groups. The platform has faced pressure from human rights and civil rights groups to take a stricter stance against such content, but Facebook has maintained that the “mere statement” of Holocaust denial doesn’t violate policies.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Recode in July 2018. “But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”

In the meantime, it appears that Holocaust-denial content on Facebook has continued to not just exist, but flourish. A recent study, published in August by

Misinformation on Facebook is three times more popular than it was during the 2016 election, according to new research



Mark Zuckerberg wearing a suit and tie: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Engagement on Facebook posts from misleading websites has spiked by 242 percent from 3Q of 2016 to 3Q of 2020, according to a new report from German Marshall Fund Digital.
  • Only 10 outlets, which researchers labeled as “False Content Producers” or “Manipulators,” were responsible for 62% of interactions. 
  • Facebook in the past has been slammed by civil rights leaders for inadequately handling the spread of misinformation on its platform.
  • Facebook’s attempts to moderate misinformation on the platform come into focus ahead of the US presidential election. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Engagement from misleading websites on Facebook has tripled since the 2016 US presidential election.

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The total number of user interactions with articles from “deceptive outlets” has increased by 242% between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2020, according to a study published Monday by the German Marshall Fund Digital, the digital wing of the Washington, DC-based public policy think tank. 

Only 10 outlets — out of thousands — received 62% of those interactions, GMF Digital found. The researchers categorized outlets as either “False Content Producers” for sites, including The Federalist, that provide information that’s false, and “Manipulators” for sites, like Breitbart, that present claims that aren’t backed by evidence. 

The study concluded that since the third quarter of 2016, the number of articles from False Content Producers jumped by 102 percent and the number of articles from Manipulators increased by 293 percent. 

“Disinformation is infecting our democratic discourse at rates that threaten the long-term health of our democracy,” Karen Kornbluh, director of GMF Digital, said in

Facebook reverses policy and bans Holocaust denial on its platforms

Facebook has announced a ban on content that denies or distorts the Holocaust. The policy marks a reversal on how to handle a disturbing category of posts that CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said should not be blocked on the platform even though they’re false. 

The company updated its hate speech policy to prohibit such content, Monika Bickert, VP of Content Policy at Facebook, said in a statement on Monday. 

“Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” she said.

Groups that track hate speech “are reporting increases in online attacks against many groups worldwide, and we continue our efforts to remove it,” Bickert said. 

The company says it removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech shared on its platform in the second quarter of this year alone. Facebook has also banned more than 250 white white supremacist organizations and updated its policies for handling militia groups and the QAnon conspiracy theory, the statement said. 

The new policy is a change from Facebook’s previous stance on the issue of Holocaust denial. In 2018, Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher that while he found such claims “deeply offensive,” he did not believe Facebook should block them.

“At the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” Zuckerberg said, adding that he didn’t think they were “intentionally” getting it wrong — at which point Swisher cut in and said, “In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be.” 

Zuckerberg sought to clarify his comments in a follow-up email to Swisher, saying he “absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who