Spreading false news cannot go unpunished. The prosecutor against hate crimes of Barcelona, Miguel Ángel Aguilar, asks the first tweeter accused of spreading ‘fake news’ in Spain for two years in prison with the aim of generating “animosity” against unaccompanied foreign minors. The prosecutor accuses her of a hate crime with the aggravating circumstance of broadcasting on the Internet.
In his indictment, to which elDiario.es has had access, the prosecutor states that the woman published in June 2019 a video on her Twitter account of a fight between a group of students against their teacher. The young people shout and throw papers at the teacher, in addition to throwing and knocking over tables and chairs in the classroom amid shouts and mocking laughter towards the teacher.
Although the scene of the video actually happened in Brazil and had nothing to do with unaccompanied foreign minors, the defendant accompanied the video with a text against migrants. “I control a video of an educational center for illegal immigrants, look at how they appreciate our welcome”.
The discrimination that occurs in social networks keeps the service against hate crimes and discrimination of the Barcelona Public Prosecutor’s Office on alert. Within these, in recent years there has been an increase in ‘fake news’, false news that deliberately tends to take advantage of current incidents of strong impact to transfer prejudices to the audience or try to discredit a group, often accompanied of false or misrepresented audiovisual material.
The Prosecutor’s Office understands that the line of the Penal Code was crossed by affecting the false news to a vulnerable group such as unaccompanied minors. The prosecutor emphasizes that with the dissemination of the video the defendant intended “to associate violent behavior in the classrooms with all unaccompanied minors who come to our country” through a “manifest contempt for the truth and in a massive and indiscriminate manner among all potential users of the social network Twitter “.
The objective, the prosecutor abounds, was to “discredit” the minors and “contribute to awakening, empowering or increasing prejudices and stereotypes among the population” against the group, with the risk of generating feelings of rejection and social animosity towards them. The defendant in this case was convicted two years ago for simulating a crime. This is one of the two cases of criminal investigations for ‘fake news’ that are followed in Catalan courts. The other cause also has foreign minors as victims.
Apart from the two-year prison sentence, which is the maximum that the prosecutor can request for the crime against fundamental rights, the Public Ministry demands a fine of 6,480 euros from the accused and her disqualification for five years from teaching or sports instructor.
Coinciding with the first state of alarm, the Prosecutor’s Office identified a dozen criminal types that can be incurred for the dissemination of false news, always depending on the content or the degree of disclosure, ranging from hate crimes, public disorders, insults or slander even scams and against consumers.