The fake video about the PSOE and Bildu: this is how it emerged and survived on social networks | Technology

The president of the Congress, Meritxell Batet, asks for calm before the boos while the spokeswoman of EH Bildu in the Congress, Mertxe Aizpurua, waits to continue with her intervention. In video, the images of the controversy.

At 9 am on January 5, the second day of the investiture process, the first spokesperson to speak at the Congress was Mertxe Aizpurua, of EH Bildu. After talking for a while, he quoted Arnaldo Otegi, leader of his training. Boos were heard. He then referred to the "more than six unfair years of imprisonment" of Otegi. The shouts increased and the president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, took the floor: "Freedom of expression is one of the foundations of our Constitution and political pluralism is one of the highest values ​​of our legal system," he said. The deputies of the PSOE applauded that phrase.

Seven minutes later, the video recorded from the chamber that would channel the false news emerged

It was then 9:22 in the morning and Cristina Ayala, senator of the Popular Party, tweeted: "The psoe [sic] applauding at Batet's intervention while the deputy of Bildu makes true apology for terrorism on the stand. "The attribution of the applause was still correct. But immediately it appeared some other tweet which already referred to the applause as from the PSOE directly to Bildu.

Seven minutes later, the video recorded from the hemicycle that would channel the false news emerged: 10 blurred seconds of camera turns between the platform and the socialist bench with meaningless zooms. The deputy of Vox Luis Gestoso tweeted him and said that the "PSOE fully cheered the spokeswoman for ETA-Bildu."

Gestoso added the name of @vox_es in the message as an alert for those who keep the official account. Then, his tweet from Gestoso and some journalists and anonymous accounts had a life of their own. The accompanying texts were hard as Gestoso's.

Before 10 the video was already on the Facebook page of Santiago Abascal: "January 5, 2020. The Socialists applauding the heirs of ETA once they obtain the band's safe conduct from the rostrum. Pedro Sánchez and the PSOE they have already crossed all the red lines of democracy and dignity. Betrayal gallops on the back of socialism, "wrote the Vox leader.

After a while it was the turn of the Vox Twitter account. But when Vox picked up the video, they opted for a less belligerent message: a list of socialists killed by ETA. The text was taken word for word from this one:

Thus a false news was born and viralized. Among these messages have exceeded half a million views. Another piece was missing: the Vox Facebook account, which already exceeds 307,000. Among all, plus the contributions of the Popular Party and Citizens, the idea that the PSOE applauded Bildu has been seen at the moment more than 1 million times. Vox chose not to take this video on Instagram or YouTube.

And the check-checkers?

On Twitter, they don't watch fake news. The fact checkers from the website, however, they did verify the video once it went viral on Twitter. They made an article where they denied their content. is one of the three verification companies with which Facebook works in Spain. Using the Facebook tool, they alerted the company that this content was false.

The Facebook algorithm decides from there to warn users that they will share that video that is false. This is what happened in the Santiago Abascal page, Vox leader. Before watching the video, Facebook warned: "False information. Checked by independent information verifiers." If the user requested more information, it appeared that "the main statements of the information are objectively inaccurate" and a link to the article: "No, the PSOE has not applauded Bildu's intervention in the investiture debate: he applauded the President of the Meritxell Batet Congress ".

The games have easy to dodge the controls of Facebook: retouch a controversial video and see if it sneaks

A while later the Vox Facebook page hung up the video with the same text as the tweet and a tag at the end: "Sanchez betrays his dead." That video was not considered "fake" by Facebook. Why? The company says that the video that analyzed and the one posted by Vox on the party's account - not Abascal's - are different. Perhaps there is a remote editing difference, imperceptible to the human eye but detectable for a robot. The consequence is that, according to Facebook, what was false on Abascal's page was not false on Vox's.

The Vox post has more than 307,000 views and growing. Abascal's wears alone 94,000 because in theory Facebook says that when a content is defined as false, its algorithm teaches it to fewer users, although the video can still be seen if the user wants to. Abascal's page has 100,000 less "likes" than Vox's.

The free lies of politicians

Facebook does not verify the statements of politicians. A politician in this social network can lie freely, but not share lies, unless he modifies them slightly once he has been caught. The games have easy to dodge the controls of Facebook: discretely touch up a controversial video and see if it sneaks. Facebook seems comfortable in this absurd game where its verification policy is nullified by the cunning of the network managers in the matches.

The social network has just announced that will not allow the deep fakes - false videos made with artificial intelligence - on its platform in this election year in the United States. But slightly edited videos, much more common, can continue on the platform, as in this case.

As if that were not enough, Abascal can now write in a post or say in a video on Facebook that the "PSOE applauded Bildu" and will not verify it on the platform: "We cannot verify the political discourse on Facebook", says Clara Jiménez Cruz, co-founder of It is Facebook policy.

The Popular Party, for example, shared a fragment of the video - with a sign that said that the PSOE applied Bildu - within a longer video of more than a minute where speeches by Pablo Casado and other politicians appeared. Facebook considers this type of content very ambiguous. And it is likely that in this election year in the United States these distinctions are incessantly questioned.

What is left of all this? Probably a useful grounds for those who believe that the PSOE could applaud Bildu. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have seen a video in which many have interpreted what they wanted, suggested by the messages that accompanied them. Who wants to believe that the PSOE applauded Bildu, has its support in dozens of videos on the networks. Google for example now recommends "Bildu" as the first option when "PSOE claps" is typed. The searches for "PSOE applaud Bildu" and "PSOE Bildu" went off since January 4 compared to previous months, where they barely existed. Google, however, does first offer links where the information is correct.


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