When fake news ruins real lives: meet the Spaniards destroyed by online rumors

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Everyday Spanish people are being hurt by false accusations – like Francisco who was wrongly blamed for a brutal robbery in a viral Facebook post.

Unfounded rumors can be punished in Spain with up to two years in prison. When we speak about fake news we should broaden the term. Everyone is at risk. For example a housewife in Brazil was stoned to death after someone on social media said she looked a child kidnapper.

“Digital platforms are failing to assume their responsibility for the dissemination of lies,” says León Fernando del Canto, a lawyer who specializes in social media. “These companies don’t have legal representation in Spain and even if they do, you send them a certified fax and they don’t answer you. It is impossible for them to filter everything, but it you raise a complaint, they should put forward a solution.”

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