Peru Disinformation Profile

From ADTAC Disinformation Inventory

Peru Media environment

Following Alberto Fujimori’s presidency (1992 – 2000), Peru’s overall media freedom has improved. However, it still ranks 91st out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index as journalists continue to be threatened, intimidated and prosecuted while state-held information often remains inaccessible to the general public.[1] As of 2019 60% of Peruvians use the internet.[2] This number, however, dips to just under 6% in rural Peru.[3]

Coronavirus infodemic

Similar to other Latin American countries, Covid-19 related disinformation was and continues to be rampant in Peru, where politician Rafael López Aliaga – a conservative candidate under Renovación Popular in Peru’s recent general election in 2021 where he placed third – spearheaded conspiracy theories. He has gained support by appealing to conspiracy theories, disinformation campaigns and discourses of violence against opponents. Within the last year he supported violent protests that were directed against state-mandated quarantines, claimed that the current government performed a genocide on its own people and disseminated disinformation relating to Covid-19 vaccines over Twitter.[4] Coronavirus disinformation has become so rampant that Congress voted 49 to 39 in favor of the motion on May 13th to set up a committee to investigate if chlorine dioxide can be effective against the virus, despite FDA’s clear disapproval.[5]

11/07/2020 Mandatory vaccination

A Facebook user claimed that the Peruvian government forces its citizens to vaccinate: “In Peru, vaccination against COVID-19 is now compulsory and anyone who refuses to use it will be arrested, see pictures. It has begun, WAKE UP.”[6] The post was accompanied by pictures that displayed military personnel and doctors on doors. In fact, however, the pictures showed Peru's Ministry of Health promoting to get vaccinated against diphtheria.[7]

Political instability

11/2021 Vizcarra’s removal and Merino’s inauguration

On September 11, 2020, Congress initiated impeachment proceedings against President Vizcarra, whom the majority of deputies accused of corruption. On November 9, 2020, deputies voted by a two-thirds majority to impeach him for corruption and moral incompetence. Critics called the impeachment a "covert coup d'état" by Congress, and protests erupted among the population against it.[8] Merino was named interim president on November 10. Following nationwide protests that left several people dead, Merino announced his resignation as president on Nov. 15, 2020, less than a week after taking office.[9] As protestors were met with tear gas, a tweet  - which was retweeted several times – falsely claimed that patients in Lima’s Children’s Hospital had to be transferred as tear gas had entered the facilities.

Disinformation incidents during Peru’s 2021 general election

01/2021 Fact checking tools

The Peruvian general election was marked by political uncertainty and institutional instability. Thus, Peru established for the first time a fact-checking network comprising multiple independent journalism organizations – namely Ama Llulla – to combat disinformation online.[10] Furthermore, “the Peruvian Press Council launched PerúCheck, a collaborative journalistic fact-checking tool in February.”[11]

Preceding the elections, Ama Llulla’s account on Facebook was appropriated on January 24th by a right-wing group that began to attack previous President Francisco Sagasti and candidates of the recent election on their Facebook page. Ojo Publico called it “one of the most aggressive disinformation actions of the 2021 electoral campaign in Peru.”[12]

04/2021 – 06/2021 Fujimori’s election campaign and claims of irregularities

With 100% of the votes processed, Pedro Castillo (18.92%) and Keiko Fujimori (13.4%) finished in first and second place in the first round of the elections. Throughout the second round of the election, state media supported Keiko Fujimori’s campaign to discredit Castillo and portrayed him as a left-wing extremist, claiming his presidency would return Peru to the violence of the 1980s.[13]

The runoff election was decided by a few percentage points. Before the result was final, Fujimori loudly alleged election fraud and claimed there had been “a series of irregularities”[14] at a press conference where she showed videos and photographs allegedly showing proof of counting irregularities. A table member supported these claims on Twitter, suggesting that ballots were discredited illegally.[15] International observers, however, did not find any evidence suggesting Fujimori’s claims were correct.

Furthermore, throughout the election rumors continued to circulate in social media, including bribery of Castillo’s party to favor election results, banning Peruvians from voting abroad and false claims of large crowds supporting Fujimori – all of which were discredited by Ama Llulla.[16]

  15. Ama Llulla (2021), Facebook, ibd:
  16. Ama Llulla (2021), Facebook, ibd: