Latinos—specifically Spanish-speaking residents of South Florida—are now getting bombarded with political conspiracy theories via WhatsApp, Facebook, and radio.
The Facebook page of Puerto Rican pastor Melvin Moya is littered with conspiracy theories. Moya, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, uses his account to spread lies and post doctored videos, memes, and posts, aimed at discrediting former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s a trend that dates back to the 2016 presidential election. Politico reports that these conservative, ring-wing conspiracy theorists are now aiming to target Latinos, particularly Latino voters in Florida.
Most Latinos use social media for entertainment and news, data shows. According to the Politico report, Latinos—specifically Spanish-speaking residents of South Florida—are now getting bombarded with political conspiracy theories via WhatsApp, Facebook, and radio.
Moya, a self-proclaimed Christian speaker and recording artist, has more than 11,000 followers on Facebook. His feed has numerous misleading posts about pedophilia and COVID-19. He also falsely claims that the Democratic presidential candidate is involved.
Roberto Tejera, who has a show on Actualidad Radio in Florida, told Politico that the misinformation aimed at Latinos is part of a much larger problem that’s intended to threaten democracy.
“It’s not right-wing. I don’t have a problem with right-wing stuff. It’s QAnon stuff,” Tejera told the publication. “This is conspiracy theory. This goes beyond. This is new. This is a new phenomenon in Spanish speaking radio.”
QAnon is a misinformation movement that began in 2017 and has spawned into real followers who gather at protests and at political events. They aim to spread conspiracy theories that attack the Democratic Party. Facebook has a slew of QAnon groups, and there are several branches for Latino followers. The issue of believing misinformation, such as conspiracy theories, is that they affect people’s perception of the truth, which in turn plays into how they vote.
Pew Research Center shows that most Americans understand what conspiracy theories are, but not many are familiar with the ideas behind QAnon. The concern is that QAnon is shaping the election, but more startling is that, according to a Pew Research report, some people may not even comprehend that the misleading posts are lies.
Minutes after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) pleaded with Latinos to reach out to their Spanish-speaking friends and family to educate them on the misinformation they may encounter on social media.
“There’s a massive Spanish-language misinformation campaign going on right now online,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram LIVE. “If you are Latino or Latina, I want you to talk to your family… check in and make sure that that stuff hasn’t gotten through to them.”