A Bulgarian website invented a story about a pro-incest MEP that was then shared by thousands of people on Facebook, a fact-checking study has found.
The story, published in March on faktualno.com, quoted a Swedish MEP called ''Elisabeth Gyron''. There is no MEP with such a name.
The story claimed "Gyron" had declared that sexual intercourse between siblings or children and their parent is ''educational''.
It has been widely shared on Facebook in Bulgaria in the run-up to EU elections, according to CrossCheck Europe.
The article also incorrectly claimed many European politicians were ''pro-incest''.
The photo used in the fake news article is of a former Swedish MP from the Social Democratic party, called Monica Elisabeth Green.
In 2010, Green expressed support for two adult siblings who were being prosecuted for having a sexual relationship but said that she opposed incest between parents and children.
The fake news story used misleading interpretations of her 2010 quotes to paint a picture of politicians allegedly supporting incest across Europe, citing political support in Denmark, Hungary and Sweden.
It was widely shared on social media, with more than 15,000 on Facebook alone. CrossCheck, which investigated the story, found that most Facebook interactions with the fake news article came from individual user accounts that appeared to believe the story as true.
''The claim, misquoting Monica Green’s comments as well as the mischaracterisation her name, has appeared repeatedly on Bulgarian news sites since 2010,'' CrossCheck concluded in its study of the fake news story's virality.
''The website may be satirical but the majority of people in the Facebook comments are treating the story as true.''