Mexico Disinformation Profile

From ADTAC Disinformation Inventory

Mexico Domestic Disinformation

Mexico Media Environment

Mexico is ranked 143 out of 180 countries on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, it has become increasingly dangerous for journalists in the country who are persecuted and whose deaths are often unpunished.[1][2] Mexico has a 65% Internet Penetration Rate.[3] Facebook is the most popular social media network.[4]

Online disinformation campaigns have been said to have had a major impact on Mexican elections as far back as the 2012 presidential election.[5] Bot and false websites are frequently employed and promoted on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.[6] There are large youth groups who are paid to threaten and attack journalists online.[7]

2018 Presidential Election

An Atlantic Counsel investigation during the 2018 Presidential election found some political parties using bot networks to amplify their content as well as numerous cases of buying and selling social media engagements.[8] This investigation found that online disinformation had "little discernable impact" but led to unrest at the local level[9]

2018 Fake Whatsapp messages

In August 2018 a viral message spread on Whatsapp amongst residents of the town of Acatlán in the state of Hidalgo. The message exclaimed that there was a "plague" of child kidnappers in the region, who were engaged in organ trafficking. Alongside this, two men, Ricardo Flores age 21 and Alberto Flores, 43 had been detained by police for "disturbing the order". Messages began circulating after the two men had been previously sighted near a primary school, and a fatal connection was made that the two were in fact the kidnappers. A crowd gathered at the police station, after messages suggesting Ricardo and Alberto were to be released. As a result, the mob broke into the station, dragged the two innocent men out, beat them, covered them in fuel and set them alight. There was no evidence for any crime being committed [10]

2020 Government Network

The NGO Article 19 uncovered that executives from the Agency from Noticias del Estado (Notimex) carried out coordinated attacks using bots and fake accounts against journalists and former employees.[11][12]

2020 Cyber Troop Activity

The Oxford Computational Propaganda Research Project: 2020 Global Inventory of Organised Social Media Manipulation has identified Cyber Troop activity in Mexico with medium capacity.[13]

COVID-19 Disinformation

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador downplayed the threat of COVID-19 saying, “According to the information available, it is not terrible or fatal. It is not even as bad as the flu.”[14]