This past week several fake photos and videos of police action during the referendum in Catalonia have been used to denounce the actions of the Spanish authorities. Many of them have been seen on foreign media outlets, both in Europe and in North America. These photos have also been circulated heavily on social media. These are the most shared falsehoods, broken down one by one.
1. An old photo of a head wound
On October 1, Lagarder Danciu, an activist with 22,800 followers on Twitter, shared this image that was retweeted by the thousands. Yanina Hernández also shared the same image with more than 9,000 followers, 6,700 of whom retweeted. Javier Bauluz took the photo on July 12, 2012 during police action against the riots sparked by a mining demonstration. It was published by the Human Journalism website. It is also the first image that appears when you search “man with bleeding head” in Spanish on Google.
2.The child injured in 2012
This image of a child with a bloody face is actually from November 14, 2012. The juvenile, 13, was injured when four people were charged with public disorder by the Catalan police in front of the El Corte Inglés in Tarragona, a city on the northeast coast. Twitter user Marta Guira received more than 1,000 retweets before deleting the post, which was replicated by other users.
3. Old Catalan police operations
International users, such as @ScotIndyDebate and @ MC1988, shared videos of these police raids in 2012, where you can clearly see Catalan police officers chasing and using their batons on people on the street. The original video can be seen on YouTube and was published by EL PAÍS and El Mundo in 2012.
4. Attack on a disabled person
This photo was shared by several Twitter and Facebook users, especially outside Spain, such as the Italian Veneto Award, to highlight alleged police brutality. The image was taken in May 2011 and is hosted on the Acampadabcnfoto Flickr account. It came about during the 15-M anti-austerity movement in Spain. The complete sequence also shows that the Catalan police officer is not attacking the disabled person, but rather someone behind him.
5. Clash of police officers and firefighters in 2013
The Twitter account of Canadian user @ClaudeDuguay2 spread an image of firefighters cornered by police officers holding batons to represent the tension between Catalan firefighters and Spanish officers. The image is actually another anti-austerity protest in 2013 in Barcelona. AP photographer, Paco Serinelli, took the photo. It appears alongside other photos used on October 1 when you search “police vs. firefighters” on Google.
6. Fake flags
Josep Maria Mainat, a member of a group called La Trinca who has 75,400 followers on Twitter, shared a photograph of a struggle between Civil Guard officers and a group of citizens. The photo he shared had a Catalan independence flag digitally added. He captioned the tweet, “Pulitzer photo,” and it received more than 12,500 retweets.
English version by Debora Almeida.