The dirty digital war for the presidency of Mexico already has its cure: Verificado 2018

Fake news has the facility to spread quickly thanks to social networks, but Verificado 2018 works to stop all false or dubious content

The dirty digital war for the presidency of Mexico already has its cure: Verificado 2018

On July 1, the political future of Mexico is played through elections. There are more than 3,400 positions of popular election at the local, state and federal levels, which makes it the largest election day in the history of the country. The presidency is without a doubt the most coveted charge of that day, which will be disputed by five candidates seeking to replace the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, for the next six-year term. However, this day is getting dirty by the false news that comes out day after day against the candidates, for which the country was in need of creating a project (Verificado 2018) to counteract this news.

Leer en español: La sucia guerra digital para la presidencia de México ya tiene su cura: Verificado 2018

Fake news has the peculiarity that spread quickly thanks to social networks. The candidates for the presidential office have made accusations against the other opponents of hiring online provocateurs or using automated promotion tools such as bots, to flood social networks with messages that seek to influence voters. The result, although it cannot yet be calculated, can be inferred: damaging the image of who aspires to the presidency and its voting percentage.

Russia in the Mexican elections

In the United States, controversy over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has led to accusations of Russian interference in the Mexican conflict. H. R. McMaster, the then US National Security Adviser, declared in December that there were "early indications" that the Kremlin in Moscow wanted to influence the vote, although no further details were given. Manuel Cossío Ramos, political strategist in digital sectors, claimed to have found Russian footprints in electoral issues, with Andrés Manuel López Obrador as the main topic. Cossío Ramos is not affiliated with any campaign, but recognizes that López Obrador is not the candidate of his choice.


Cossío Ramos said that using NetBase, a tool that helps network analysis, he found in April 4.8 million entries on López Obrador on social networks that were driven by users located outside of Mexico. According to his analysis, about 63 percent of the articles reviewed would come from Russia and 20 percent from Ukraine. Cossio Ramos said that by doing similar searches for the other candidates, Ricardo Anaya (from the Por México al Frente coalition) and José Antonio Meade (from the Todos por México coalition), discussions about them that come from abroad have their origin in the United States and a very small part in Russia.

However, for other digital consultants with different tools, it is difficult to support Cossío Ramos' version, as they do not find support for Russian or Ukrainian meddling.

Fake news and the role of Verificado 2018

Apart from the supposed Russian meddling, other false news that has gained some relevance since the beginning of the campaign is the affirmation that Pope Francisco spoke out against López Obrador and criticized his ideology. It is an invention that was denied by Verificado 2018, the project dedicated to denounce and investigate false news during election campaigns.

Another assertion, also denied by Verificado, said that Ricardo Anaya, who takes second place in the intention to vote, had family ties with the cabinet of current President Peña Nieto and an ex-president of the ruling party. And therefore, he was in cahoots with the current government and that he would be another candidate for the current PRI party.

As you can see, Verificado 2018 has played its part in disproving false news during the electoral period. In addition, the National Electoral Institute (INE, by its acronym in English) made an agreement with Facebook, Twitter and Google to counteract false news and, instead, to return the true data viral. Facebook, as part of this agreement, has published in major newspaper deployed with ten tips to detect fake news and when it finds false news reduces its reproduction by up to 80%.

Verificado 2018 is a website that works to dismantle false news. It consists of a team of 12 journalists who are responsible for analyzing those dubious content that proliferate through social networks and spread rapidly. Previously, other countries have promoted similar initiatives to Verificado 2018, such as Electionland in the United States or CrossCheck in France.

In Mexico, the project arose through the collaboration between Animal Político, AJ + Español and the organization Pop Up Newsroom, which was in charge of training journalists who are doing their verification work.


Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Translated from "La sucia guerra digital para la presidencia de México ya tiene su cura: Verificado 2018"

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