Among the massive amount of information circulating during the Catalan Independence Referendum celebrations, declared illegal by the Constitutional Court, there was space for the circulation of questionable information, manipulated or fake photos, and videos that have created a lot of buzz.
Early in the morning, people went to cast their vote in ballot boxes which were camouflaged and being transported in private vehicles to avoid being confiscated by the police.
The Spanish broadcasters, Telecinco and TVE were among the news organizations to point out that one ballot box with voting papers inside was being transported before the opening of the polling station, putting into question the credibility of the vote.
However, it is unknown whether the voting papers were marked with a YES or a NO. According to these media outlets, the images dated from the beginning of the day before the electoral college opened.
They were highlighted by former deputy Rosa Diez.
¿¿Urnas llenas de papeletas antes de colocarse en los colegios?? ¡¡Los golpistas separatistas pillados en pleno pucherazo!! ¡Que vergüenza!! pic.twitter.com/EK6Y8lCRmx
— Francisco Bernabé (@bernabepaco) October 1, 2017
— 24h (@24h_tve) October 1, 2017
But, it is important to note that the light in this video suggests it was taken later in the day since sunrise in Barcelona took place at 7:50 on October 1. At this time, the ballot boxes were already, in principle, inside the electoral colleges.
Additionally, the ballot box in the video does not have the red plastic seals used to guarantee that the boxes would not be opened during voting. Some users suggest that the video’s ballot box was used to transport virgin voting papers as part of the complicated voting procedure.
We haven’t been able to obtain more information on what happened in that particular situation.
However, some colleges had to move the ballot boxes to avoid having them confiscated by the police in the middle of the voting day.
Other questionable content, such as videos of people voting in groups without showing any identification and some casting votes several times, has also been circulating on social media.
— beatrizmartin#RED (@BeaMartv) October 1, 2017
Si votas cuatro veces te llevas a casa la urna llena de fuet y de pan payés. pic.twitter.com/WUWWneWXUx
— El Aguijón ? (@Elaguijon_) October 1, 2017
One such picture shows a Madrid local who voted NO without proving that he was registered to vote in Catalonia.
Así votó “NO” un madrileño empadronado en Vallecas en el referéndum catalán ? https://t.co/9vGNVFrch9
— Foro GuardiasCiviles (@forogc) October 1, 2017
The polemic also includes fake images like the one below, which shows the Mossos de’ Esquadra (the Catalan police force) confronting firefighters.
GLORY TO THE CATALAN FIREMEN! pic.twitter.com/pGKg6m420d
— Ramon Mercader (@RamonMercader1) October 1, 2017
The picture dates from the 2013 protests.
Estas fotos son de 2013, de cuando la Generalitat enviaba a los Mossos a hostiar a los bomberos. Vía
alejoalberdi</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ovw9wC0m4s">https://t.co/Ovw9wC0m4s</a> <a href="https://t.co/6aSpk5xCHH">pic.twitter.com/6aSpk5xCHH</a></p>— Manel Ansede (manuelansede) October 1, 2017
Catalan firefighters did however protect voters from police action.
Another example of misinformation was the second version of a picture showing a crowd holding a Catalan flag, which according to the Twitter account Maldito Bulo is fake.
La foto es falsa.
La estelada es un montaje.
— MALDITO BULO (@malditobulo) October 1, 2017
People who suffered injuries as a result of altercations with the police were also protagonists in the controversy. A picture of a woman hit by the police that day is now being questioned for its veracity.
Una razón más para incluir en el Código penal el delito de astroturfing pic.twitter.com/aqeSvJdjzQ
— Juan Antonio (@alegrameeeldia) October 1, 2017
But there appears to be little doubt that the woman was in fact hurt according to various images and testimonies backing the aggression.
Avui la policia ha agredit a la meva mare pel simple fet de voler exercicir un dret fonamental com és votar. Aquesta no és la democràcia que volem. Hoy la policia ha agredido a mi madre por el simple hecho de querer ejercer un derecho fundamental como es votar. Esta no es la democracia que queremos. Today the police hit and injured my mother just for attempting to excercise her fundamental right to vote. This, is not the kind of democracy that we want.
A post shared by Borja Rius (@borjarius) on Oct 1, 2017 at 5:14am PDT
— Crida Democràcia (@CridaDemocracia) October 1, 2017
However, there are pictures of other protests being shared as if they were taken the day of the referendum. The debunk below was also done by the Maldito Bulo Twitter account. > NO.
Esta foto de un niño agredido no es de hoy.
Es de 2012. Los Mossos le golpearon en la manifestación de la huelga general. pic.twitter.com/TNhklJJDaW
— MALDITO BULO (@malditobulo) October 1, 2017
Spain’s Policia Nacional (National Police), who was also the object of some fake claims, warned that it was important to verify information before sharing it on social media.
Bulo despreciable anulado pic.twitter.com/fYFaXmnnvc
— Fuerzas Especiales (@Fauerzaesp) October 2, 2017