A study carried out by researchers Lorena Cano (University of Valencia) and María Díez and Cristina Renedo (University of Valladolid), all of them from the Mediaflows research group, concludes that disinformation was a continuous element during the electoral campaign of the elections April 2019 generals on various channels and groups of Vox supporters on Telegram. The investigation, published in the magazine Miguel Hernández Communication Journal, also highlights that the topics preferred by the followers of the ultra-right formation to misinform were related to issues such as abortion, immigration or weapons.
While the official Vox channels had very little activity during the campaign and their messages only sought to disseminate the Santiago Abascal rallies, in the unofficial channels and groups of the far-right formation, disinformation was “a daily constant.” with messages contrary to feminism, migration or independence, sharing “misleading and manipulated” content.
The users of these groups, as verified by the researchers, were not aware of being affected by disinformation, but rather thought that it was the media system that wanted to boycott them. The messages tried to discredit the adversary and reinforce the party’s ideology. “The information that harms Podemos, in whom the sympathizers see a rival, was common,” says the investigation.
Reaffirm your beliefs
According to researcher Lorena Cano, “these groups function as resonance chambers and make their participants reaffirm their beliefs. The problem with not questioning the veracity of such messages is that the group becomes a bubble isolated from reality and adopts the criticism of its speech as an attempt at manipulation ”.
The article has found some common characteristics in the misinformation transmitted on these Telegram channels. In the first place, those that include mobilizing content – aggressive or sensitizing and that connects with the feelings to manipulate – and other content with traits of plausibility, but with a clear ideological positioning – especially effective for people who do not consume reliable media every day. -. Third, messages that do not mention the original source or it is not possible to identify it –the information and data cannot be compared with official and reliable sources– and are fabricated information that is difficult to disprove.
To carry out this work, the researchers have applied a content analysis to the messages published in four official and unofficial Vox channels on Telegram before and during the electoral campaign.