In the last two weeks of the second round of elections, this content was multiplied in an attempt to “attract” (or rather confuse) voters.
False vaccination certificates, manipulated university degrees, made-up statements, declarations taken out of context, videos with great productions and even reggaeton songs have been spread on social networks in Ecuador trying to find both Andrés Arauz, candidate of UNES, and Guillermo Lasso, CREO- to discredit. PSC applicant.
In fact, In the last two weeks of the second round of elections, this content was multiplied in an attempt to “ attract ” (or rather confuse) voters, but to such a level that Arauz and Lasso have denounced the “dirty campaign” and called for it to be stopped.
Initiative data Ecuador verifies confirm the increase in misinformation today. Érika Astudillo, editor of the initiative and Ecuador’s Chequea, confirms that they carried out between 10 and 12 verifications of disinformative content in the last two weeks of the first round.
However, In the second round, they held 20 every week: “The issues are against the two candidates (for the presidency), the dirty campaign. Now there is not as much misinformation about the electoral process as in the first round, although this may change as election day approaches. “
The use of rumors also aims to discourage voters from the opposite trend, it’s not just about voter search, says Yalilé Loaiza, Ecuador Verifica’s content director.
On Twitter, misinformation has 70% more retweets than real informationIt’s the easiest way to get a message to a particular group on social media. Personal attack prevails over proposals. So we are not talking about an informed vote, ”he says.
This misinformation has brought the profile of the two presidential candidates into disrepute, said Pablo Vidal, digital communications advisor.
The fake news they are a good thing. They are content with highly viral, eye-catching headlines and people find that sickly and share without even reading the content. In Ecuador there is a big problem of digital culture“, He says.
This content is massively replicated by so-called troll center o go bots in front of take advantage of that large electoral mass that has no literacy or digital culture, that is, verify the data coming in.
“For the past two weeks we’ve seen the issue of the Venezuelans, we’ve seen the issue of Don Medardo and his players, the Ecuador team, the false vaccination. This provides income for the parties as millions of Ecuadorians are still unaware of the proper use of digital media. That electorate is the one who will believe it and replicate the messages in word of mouth, that is, it will go from the digital medium to the physical medium. But it is a cheated vote, ”says Vidal.
But this wave of disinformation is growing exponentially at electoral moments like the present, as the population wants to see “what interests them, what they agree with,” and is unwilling to tolerate opposing views, says Tania Orbe, professor at the US. Universidad San. Francisco from Quito. “We’ve reached the level that if there’s no version I agree with, I’ll invent it.”
In addition, Orbe points out, the media has contributed to the current political polarization, because no matter how much the versions of the two parties are shown, there is a favoritism to one candidate or the other.
In journalism you have to make sure that people read, see and listen to information that they disagree with“, It shows.
The background is serious. Ultimately, Ecuadorians are more focused on the lie than on the political message or the solution to the crisis the country is experiencing.“We are more aware of Lasso’s shoes whether Don Medardo and his players support Arauz or not and that changes the political background,” said Vidal.
Access to public information to verify data disclosed during this election contest is also a difficult obstacle to overcome. Ecuador Verifica has asked several official entities for data to assess the feasibility of certain candidates’ proposals, but so far they have not received a response. Several of these requests have been made since December last year.
In fact, the initiative has sought out the two candidates and their teams to clarify questionable data in their government plans: “They are still delayed. When it suits them, they respond quickly, but if you want to research more about sensitive issues, they go nuts, ”says Astudillo.
But if Arauz and Lasso have moved away from this content, who is producing them?
On the political issue, it is very difficult to determine or pinpoint who is producing the false or misrepresented content because “no one will take the lead,” says Loaiza.
According to the expert there is a non-transparent exercise of the two candidates as it is known worldwide that disinformation is part of digital campaigns.
“Let’s say they are not the candidates or their teams, but their militants. This tells us that disinformation has been used as a tool to attack the common and current user’s opponent,” he says.
Vidal agrees and indicates that When parties implement political marketing and communication strategies, they know very well that the last weeks of a match are about the “soft” voice, that is, people who are still undecided and that it is “time to sow confusion. “.
Plus, he adds, the communications teams are working in smokescreens, especially in these final days of the campaign, because if they launch a serious charge, they won’t give their rivals time to deny it.
Communication teams are more focused on creating ‘bomb news’ than on denying false news”Says Vidal.
What has also been found is that some public figures who have shown their preference for either of the two political currents have shared articles of disinformation, helping to replicate them.
Part of the fight against misinformation is trying to verify what these opinion leaders share. Digital literacy is necessary to have accurate and truthful content. The user must have doubts, because he is constantly getting wrong information, ”says Loaiza.
It is not at all easy to verify the content distributed by these actors. According to Astudillo, messages misinformation about these characters is confused with opinion: “They combine data with opinion and opinion cannot be verified because opinion is respected. We found cases against Arauz and Lasso
Alert for April 11th
Experts warn that this content will not stop despite the electoral silence that will prevail from tomorrow, Friday, April 8, and will even increase next Sunday, the 11th, voting day.
In fact, there will be a lot more fake news circulating that day than the entire campaign. There will be fraud in certain electoral centers, riots, and that will cause more “chaos,” Vidal warns.
Orbe agrees and furthermore this will be stimulated by the position of the two candidates that “whoever loses, loses, will confirm that there was fraud”: “No one will believe the results, not even the officials. The National Electoral Council has been totally discredited, it is not a solid institution. (…) Mental health must come from the candidates and they must see the current context (pandemic)
Ecuador Verifica has already verified that on Feb. 7 (first round of election) the disinformation multiplied content, especially about the results and biosafety issues. From noon they began to circulate. According to Astudillo and Loaiza, this reality will happen again.
Young and over 51, most likely to share misinformation
The study Political propaganda using fake news: Ecuador 2021 elections preparing us for disinformation, by Ximena Ferro, of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, shows that young people between the ages of 18 and 25 and those over 51 are the most likely to share “fake news” about politics.
According to this study, young people (18 to 25 years old) are the least likely to share political information with their friends (barely 25% do), but they are the largest group participating in social networks. 89% of young people who do share political information indicated that they do not verify the content when broadcast by friends or acquaintances on social networks.
While those over the age of 51, which is a smaller group in terms of number of users, do not have a filter before sharing this type of content with their acquaintances.
“When it comes to memes, 80% do not verify their validity as it is considered a joke and they do not trust the institutions or the media,” the study said. (I)