68.9% of hoaxes debunked in Spain in 2020 about immigration dealt with aid, violence and illegal entry

By 6 septiembre, 2021Law and Social Sciences

The study carried out by researchers from the University of Valencia José Gamir and Miguel Ibáñez, and by Raquel Tarullo, researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) in Argentina, on 161 hoaxes denied by Maldita.es, Newtral, Efe Verifica and Verificat in Spain in 2020 focused on the analysis of hoaxes of a racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic nature.

The article, published in the magazine Anàlisi, observed that the topics most dealt with in these hoaxes were the alleged favourable treatment received by migrants by the State –35.4%–, their relationship with crime and violent acts –21.1%– and their irregular entry into Spain –12.4%–. As Professor José Gamir concludes, “these hoaxes, produced in an unprofessional way, contribute to the generation and dissemination of racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic hate speech”.


In half of the cases, the sources of these hoaxes were anonymous, that is, there were none. The second most used type of source, 20.5% of the time, was a political source –politicians, parties and institutions– but that had been supplanted, meaning that the original source had never said what was attributed to him or her.


The typology of these fake news items was almost split in half between those that were directly false –41.8%– and those that were decontextualised –41.6%–. The investigation highlights the high percentage of hoaxes that did not even have a real basis to support them, as well as those that did, but corresponded to completely different facts from those stated in the hoax.


Despite the fact that fake news generally works with text, this study confirms the prevalence of visual formats –47.2%– and audiovisual formats –31.1%–. They precisely highlight the importance of using text as an element added to images or videos and that it gives them a false sense to misinform, lie and produce hate speech.


The methodology applied in this study consisted of a content analysis on 161 hoaxes that had been debunked by the four Spanish media outlets accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network –Maldita.es, Newtral, Efe Verifica and Verificat–, which had spread in Spain throughout the year 2020 and whose theme was immigration. For the content analysis, different variables such as typology, format or visual manipulation of the images, among others, were taken into account.






Gamir-Ríos, J., Tarullo, R. & Ibáñez-Cuquerella, M. (2021). «La desinformación multimodal sobre la otredad en Internet. Difusión de bulos racistas, xenófobos e islamófobos en 2020». Anàlisi, 64, 49-64. https://doi.org/10.5565/rev/analisi.3398