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Fact-checking initiatives take on ‘fake news’ in the Spanish election

Expert hopes to dissuade politicians from stating lies but say its impact will be limited on social media

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19 April 2019 05:10 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

On April 28, Spanish citizens will be called to vote in a general election, and then in local and European elections on May 26. For these upcoming votes, fact-checking initiatives have been introduced to prevent the spread of lies.

From web pages specializing in verification, such as 'Maldita.es', to collaborations of networks between media, such as 'Checked', or teams of copywriters within the media, fact-checking could play a significant role in the coming months.

"There has been an awareness of how important this evil of "fake news" can do to a democratic system,"  explained Professor of Communications at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Ferran Lalueza, who believes that these initiatives could dissuade candidates from making false statements.

Social media difficulties

However, Lalueza also believes these efforts would yield little impact to stop misinformation from spreading on social networks. The researcher specializing in social networks is "skeptical of the actual impact" that the checking tools can have to prevent the spread of fake news.

First of all, because those who access the 'fact-checking' platforms are a "select public", they already have "a certain awareness about it" and already tend to be informed through the media.

This differs from the majority of the public, which is more exposed and is more "vulnerable" to false reports and stories, often consumed through social media and messaging platforms.

Lies spread more

According to a study published just over a year ago in the American magazine 'Science' and promoted by Twitter, false news is 70% more likely to be shared than the news that has been verified.

Additionally, fake news about politics are those that become more viral and reach more people.

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  • Fact checking website 'Maldita.es' with images of the main candidates in the Spanish election

  • Fact checking website 'Maldita.es' with images of the main candidates in the Spanish election

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