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

Even After The Plot To Kidnap Gov. Whitmer, Michigan Militant Groups Continue To Thrive On Facebook

A day after the FBI disclosed that organized armed extremists coordinated on Facebook to hatch a terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, multiple pages that encourage political violence were still active on the social network.

An examination by BuzzFeed News and the Tech Transparency Project, a nonpartisan watchdog group, found at least five such pages on the platform as of Friday morning. Those pages, which in some cases appear to be simply rebranded versions of previously banned organizations, use Facebook to recruit and to promote objectives that at times call for violent uprising.

Facebook announced in August that it was banning right-wing militant, anarchist, and QAnon groups after a series of violent crimes were tied to organizations that used the platform. Since then, the company has removed thousands of groups, and this week announced it had banned all accounts, pages, and groups tied to QAnon, the collective delusion that alleges that a secretive government cabal is kidnapping children.

Despite Facebook’s efforts, some of those pages have escaped removal despite incorporating words such as “militia” or “minutemen” in their names or web addresses; others were created after Facebook removed their original groups or pages and appear to have avoided detection by making small changes to their names.

The Michigan Liberty Militia, for example, was banned from Facebook in August. On Sept. 11, it reappeared under a page with new, slightly altered moniker — MLM Michigan liberty minutemen — and marked its return with a picture of a flag bearing two hatchets, the Liberty Bell, and two assault rifles.

“We are back!” read a post on the page posted at 8:59 a.m. and signed by the group’s leader, Phil Robinson. “Help us rebuild share and invite friends.”

A Facebook spokesperson said Friday that its work to remove violent content and

Facebook says it will ban QAnon groups

By Barbara Ortutay | Associated Press

OAKLAND — Facebook said it will ban groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

The company said Tuesday that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon” — even if they don’t promote violence. The social network said it will consider a variety of factors to decide if a group meets its criteria for a ban, including its name, the biography or “about” section of the page, and discussions within the page, group or Instagram account.

Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won’t necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. Administrators of banned groups will have their personal accounts disabled as well.

Less than two months ago, Facebook said it would stop promoting the group and its adherents, although it faltered with spotty enforcement. It said it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence. That is no longer the case.

The company said it started to enforce the policy Tuesday but cautioned that it “will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

The QAnon phenomenon has sprawled across a patchwork of secret Facebook groups, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos in recent years. QAnon has been linked to real-world violence such as criminal reports of kidnapping and dangerous claims that the coronavirus is a hoax.

But the conspiracy theory has also seeped into mainstream politics. Several Republican running for Congress this year are QAnon-friendly.

By the time Facebook and other social media companies began enforcing — however limited — policies against QAnon, critics said it was largely too late. Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in

Facebook says it will ban groups that openly support QAnon

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) —

Facebook said it will ban groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

The company said Tuesday that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon” — even if they don’t promote violence. The social network said it will consider a variety of factors to decide if a group meets its criteria for a ban, including its name, the biography or “about” section of the page, and discussions within the page, group or Instagram account.

Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won’t necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. Administrators of banned groups will have their personal accounts disabled as well.

Less than two months ago, Facebook said it would stop promoting the group and its adherents, although it faltered with spotty enforcement. It said it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence. That is no longer the case.


The company said it started to enforce the policy Tuesday but cautioned that it “will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

Critics called it a much-needed, though belated, move by Facebook.

“Now that they have announced that they will treat the QAnon ideology like the very real threat that it is, we hope that they will follow up with some modicum of evidence showing how the ban is being enforced and whether it is fully effective,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the founders of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which organized a Facebook boycott by advertisers.

But the conspiracy theory has already seeped into mainstream politics. Several Republican running for

Voting rights groups urge Florida to extend voter registration deadline after website issues

A number of voting rights groups are calling for Florida’s voter registration cutoff to be extended after the state’s registration portal experienced outages in the hours before the deadline.



graphical user interface: Some users encountered error messages when trying to access Florida's voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, in the hours before the 2020 general election deadline.


© [Allison Ross | Times]/Tampa Bay Times/TNS
Some users encountered error messages when trying to access Florida’s voter registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, in the hours before the 2020 general election deadline.

Some Floridians attempting to access RegistertovoteFlorida.gov found slow responses or error messages on Monday evening, with some reports on social media of people attempting for hours to register to vote.

Florida’s deadline to register in order to be eligible to vote in the 2020 general election was midnight Monday. Paper applications that were mailed in had to be postmarked by Monday.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU of Florida and the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter on Monday night to Brad McVay, the Florida Department of State’s general counsel, pushing for the deadline to be extended until midnight Tuesday.

“We are contemplating further action,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, when asked for an update Tuesday morning. “We are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to stand up for voters impacted.”

A spokesman for the Department of State, which manages the website, has not yet responded to two voicemails and an email sent Monday evening and Tuesday morning asking for more information about what happened with the website and whether the deadline would be extended.

Brad Ashwell, Florida state director of voting rights group All Voting is Local, said his organization was hearing reports well into Monday night that there were problems with the voter registration website. Ashwell said different groups are debating how long to ask for the deadline to be extended. He noted that there would