The effort showed how social media and other technology can be leveraged to spread misinformation so quickly that those trying to stop it cannot keep up. There were signs that it worked as Donald Trump swung large numbers of Latino votes in the 2020 presidential race in some areas that had been Democratic strongholds.
Videos and pictures were doctored. Quotes were taken out of context. Conspiracy theories were fanned, including that voting by mail was rigged, that the Black Lives Matter movement had ties to witchcraft and that Biden was beholden to a cabal of socialists.
That flow of misinformation has only intensified since Election Day, researchers and political analysts say, stoking Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen and false narratives around the mob that overran the Capitol.
More recently, it has morphed into efforts to undermine vaccination efforts against the coronavirus.
“The volume and sources of Spanish language information are exceedingly wide-ranging and that should scare everyone,” Perez said.
The funding and the organizational structure of this effort is not clear, although the messages show a fealty to Trump and opposition to Democrats.
A nonpartisan academic report released this past week said most false narratives in the Spanish-language community “were translated from English and circulated via prominent platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as in closed group chat platforms like WhatsApp, and efforts often appeared coordinated across platforms.”