TTP Report: Facebook Allows Misinformation to Target Migrants in Mexico
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2022
Contact: Michael Clauw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), released a report showing that Facebook is allowing Spanish-language misinformation and hate speech to stir up resentment toward migrants passing through Mexican communities on their way to the United States. TTP found multiple groups regularly posting false claims designed to stir up resentment toward vulnerable populations in Mexico. Some of these posts appear to violate Facebook parent company Meta’s policies on hate speech and threaten to spark real-world violence against the migrants—who are already subject to dangerous conditions in Mexico.
Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Facebook—now Meta—has invested a huge amount of effort into positioning its products as vital communications infrastructure in Latin America. Unfortunately, it has failed to invest in the Spanish-language content moderation needed to keep Latin American users safe.”
TTP identified two Facebook groups—with the same moderator—generating a steady stream of content targeting migrants in Mexico. The moderator has spread baseless rumors that Venezuela is sending criminals into Mexico, suggested without evidence that migrants are stealing pensions from Mexican citizens, and referred to migrants as “garbage” and “invaders.” TTP also found other Mexican Facebook groups spreading false claims, including that George Soros organized migrant caravans from Central America and that Haitians are bringing drugs and lewd behavior into Mexico.
In one case, TTP found a member of one anti-migrant group recruiting volunteers in the central Mexican city of San Luis Potosí to join a group to “combat the migrant invasion.” One user commenting on the post wrote that “we must do what the federal government won’t do,” without elaborating.
The risk of this unmoderated hate speech turning into real-world violence is not just a hypothetical concern. In 2018, social media-fueled misinformation targeted a migrant caravan headed to Tijuana, Mexico, alleging that the migrants were hostile to Mexican citizens and police. The campaign culminated in a violent confrontation between residents and caravan members in Tijuana.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “From the boogaloo movement to the January 6 insurrection, we’ve far too often seen hateful or dangerous ideas fester and mature on Facebook before boiling over into real-world acts of violence. If Facebook continues to under-invest in the moderation of harmful content, we’re only going to see that list get longer.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.