As Election Nears, Mexico Is Fertile Ground For Fake News

Apr 30, 2018

From Texas Standard:

if Andrés Manuel López Obrador becomes the next Mexican president in July, the government will close all Catholic churches 

That’s just one of the fake news stories circulating on Facebook feeds about the Mexican presidential election.

Sound familiar?

Remember "pizzagate" during our own presidential campaign a couple of years ago?

Alfredo Corchado, Mexico border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News says López Obrador is one of several candidates for the job, but two candidates stand out, representing vastly different political views and constituencies.

What we’ve seen lately in the last few days is this is becoming a two-man race,” Corchado says. “López Obrador and [Ricardo] Anaya. What everybody’s kind of gearing up for is this massive, ugly campaign. We’re literally 60 days away from the election, and social media will take front and center.”

In Mexico, candidates are not supposed to kick off their campaigns until 90 days before an election, so the compressed campaign period becomes all the more frenetic. Corchado says Mexico is fertile ground for unsubstantiated news stories.

“Mexico is the perfect place for fake news to flourish, because people have this historic distrust of the government and the media,” Corchado says. That has a lot to do with collusion between the government and leading media outlets.

“In 2000, for example [the government had] an alliance with the leading television broadcaster, Televisa,” Corchado says. “The network’s owner once famously described himself as a soldier for the PRI, the longstanding ruling party of Mexico.”

Corchado says the López Obrador campaign is fighting fake news with a project to bring citizens together for discussions of the candidate's policy proposals, and to combat fake news about what opponents say are his sinister plans to become a dictator.

Corchado says it’s difficult to detect the true source of fake news aimed at Mexican voters.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

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