The study, carried out by researchers Lorena Cano (University of Valencia) and María Díez and Cristina Renedo (University of Valladolid), all from the Mediaflows research group, concludes that disinformation was a continuous element during the April 2019 electoral campaign on various channels and groups of VOX political party supporters on Telegram. The research, published in the Miguel Hernández Communication Journal, also highlights that the topics preferred by VOX followers to misinform were related to issues such as abortion, immigration or guns.
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, according to the researchers, were not aware that they were 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.
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 of the misinformation transmitted on these Telegram channels. In the first place, those that include mobilising content – aggressive or sensitising 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 on a daily basis. Furthermore, messages that do not mention the original source or it can not be identified – the information and data cannot be compared with official and reliable sources – and are fabricated information that is difficult to deny.
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.
Díez-Garrido, M., Renedo Farpón, C. & Cano-Orón, L. (2021). «La desinformación en las redes de mensajería instantánea. Estudio de las fake news en los canales relacionados con la ultraderecha española en Telegram». Miguel Hernández Communication Journal, 12(2), 467-489. https://doi.org/10.21134/mhjournal.v12i.1292