Meet Mexico’s King Of Fake News


– Just like in the U.S. and across Europe,
bots, cyber attacks, and
the spread of fake news
have completely dominated
the Mexican election.
The only difference, is that Mexico
has had these problems
for a really long time.
I am Ryan Broderick,
and this is URL to IRL,
where we look at how the internet
influences the real world.
Do you think that people like you
made Donald Trump president?
(laughing)
(upbeat music)
– [Ryan] Last week I flew to Mexico City,
where I teamed up with local
Buzzfeed news reporters
Karla Zabludovsky and Inigo Arredondo.
They’ve been covering
the 2018 Mexican election
since the start of the year.
– This is the biggest
election in Mexico’s history,
there are 3,408 positions up for grabs,
including the next president.
– This is Alberto Escoria.
He’s one of Mexico’s most
prominent internet activists
and his work makes him a
huge target for trolls.
As one internet nerd to another,
I was just like very excited to meet him.
– So basically every day in Mexico,
a majority of the biggest trending topics
are run by fake people.
– Yeah.
– This is from yesterday.
– Yeah.
– Yeah, it’s like, it’s almost like,
and it gets bigger like a tumor.
So basically every day in Mexico,
a majority of the biggest trending topics
are run by fake people.
– Yeah.
– [Ryan] And who makes the fake people?
– I spoke to a member of one of Mexico’s
top digital marketing firms,
who would only talk to us
if we agreed to keep
his identity anonymous.
When did this start, and how
long has this been going on?
– So we’re looking at
almost what, 20 years?
– [Ryan] Of digital manipulation.
– What percentage of
Mexican trending topics
would you say are totally fake?
– His family has start
receiving threats also
so that’s our biggest fear.
– Do Mexican police take
that stuff seriously
when you say, “Hey,
they’re coming after me?”
– When it’s something
that’s about to happen
to get one of these guys
the police just disappears.
– It disappears?
– How long has the cyber
crime unit been going?
– Who is spreading fake news?
Is it trolls?
Is it firms?
Is it politicians?
Like who is doing this the most?
(speaking foreign language)
– Is your team worried about the companies
that make bots for politicians
around this election?
(speaking foreign language)
– Have you found anyone
already, in person,
like outside of this place?
– Have you caught ’em?
– Yeah.
(speaking foreign language)
– Throughout the election you
haven’t found any fake news?
(speaking foreign language)
– You haven’t found the
people spreading it.
(speaking foreign language)
– OK.
I wanted to ask him more questions
but I was also very aware
that we are in room full
of Mexican police officers.
And there is this sort of fear of
will they help me or
will they make it worse?
– They told us today,
it’s been nine months
and they still haven’t arrested anyone.
– They’ve got it handled guys.
– So you’re saying fake news
is in the newspapers as well?
– [Ryan] Online though?
– Have you ever made fakes news for money?
– [Ryan] Do you know people that do?
– How much money to do they make?
– Do you see America
going down a similar path
to what’s been happening in Mexico?
(slow dramatic music)
– We went into an Oxxo to get a chip.
He does this once a week.
This is a normal activity.
So basically what, you just switch it out,
that’s what we’re doing?
– This is only one thing
you can make in Mexico
to buy a chip in other country
like an IT or something.
In Mexico you just like ah.
– But here you can just buy SIM cards?
– Yeah.
– Mexico rules, that’s great.
– Carlos Merlo buys 100 SIM Cards in week?
– Yeah.
– I cannot wait to meet him.
(laughing)
– How many offices do you have?
– Right now, 17.
17?
What’s in an office for you?
What do you typically have
going on in one of these?
– A lot of millennials.
– You’re making memes.
So this is what this other
communication agency’s
you, Victory Lab.
Meme’s are universal.
I can speak Spanish with this, it’s easy.
– Newspapers.
– Yes.
– Are they real newspapers or are they?
– You made 4,000 newspapers
for the election?
To push out stories about the election.
– What kind of news?
– And do people believe that story?
– What?
That’s a thing?
– Six million people in Mexico
believe that Paul Walker
is alive and in jail here?
And that’s your fault?
– How much money?
– Pesos?
– So if you have one site that’s too big
people find it.
But if you have a lot of little ones
and you push the same
story across your network
people can’t figure out that…
– Terrifying, but smart.
Do your posts on Twitter go viral?
Do they trend?
Can you prove that, can you
prove that you go viral?
– Can you?
– Carlos has prepared a hashtag
which means win with victory lab.
And he’s gonna make it trend for us.
And we should start to see it
populate here shouldn’t we?
– So this is a spreadsheet.
– Yes.
– That the bots will read.
– Exactly.
– So you’ve heard about
what they do in Russia
with Twitter accounts.
Do you see any similarities
between what you’re doing
and Russian chaos agents?
– Do you rename them Mexican names?
– But you bought them from Russia?
– Have you ever spoken
to anyone from Russia?
– PayPal.
– Which one of you guys is Mr. Beans.
Any of you guys one of these accounts?
You wouldn’t tell me
if you were would you?
What I think would blow a lot
of people’s minds about Mexico
is that you don’t have one
shadowy Cambridge Analytica,
you have dozens if not
hundreds of small ones.
Like Carlos Merlo runs Victory Labs
which is basically a
homegrown Cambridge Analytica
that is making lots of money
to just monitor people’s data
and spread fake news and manipulate bots.
It’s totally crazy.
(speaking foreign language)
(crowds chanting)
– What does your firm not
want your clients to know?
– [Ryan] Do you think
that your work is immoral?
– Do you worry about doing this forever?
– In six years?
– Yes.
– So what is your next campaign?
– Yes.
– You want to do one more campaign?
– You will basically elect
a president and you’ll quit.
(upbeat music)
– So the hashtag is currently
at number six in all of Mexico.
And it’s been almost two hours.
So, two hours, number six.
I’m so pissed.
(laughing)
The digital free for all that
now dominates our daily life
didn’t happen in a vacuum.
There are no borders on the internet.
So when guys like Carlos
Merlo turn out fake news
it affects us all.
If we want a fighting chance
at making the web a healthier place,
we need to pay attention to
other countries like Mexico.
Because their problems,
are our problems too.

78 comments

  1. This is so well done and also SO CRAZY! They BUY Twitter bots from Russia and use them to swing an election, and they don't even want to hide it?

  2. Honestly is amazing how an individual(s) can manipulate a country. I had notice that my family believed in things they see on Facebook or on Twitter.. and for someone to make a business out of that,I dont know if is genius or immoral

  3. Thanks to pendejos like this and the retards that believe and spread even more their news everyone in Mexico is getting fvcked by the politicians and the ignorance spreads like fire in a forest

  4. This doesn't only happen in Mexico, this happens EVERYWHERE!

    From the smallest to the largest scales!

    From fake news about some celebrity to hype them to fake news about politicians or pushing certain agendas like LGBT!

  5. You don't need any ID in Europe or the US to get a SIM card, you can get it exactly as easy as in Mexico. You just buy it almost at any store. It's "fake news" that in Mexico is real easy and in the US or Europe is restricted.

  6. Carlos Melo gives himself waaaay too much credit. I will elect the next president then I'll stop he says… LMFAO!

  7. This is terrible. I hate these people, but I hate fake news too. I'll try to be more careful. The whole thing stinks!!!!

  8. Problem with Mexico is that even the main sources of news are fake news, Televisa, Azteca, Aristegui, Reforma, La Jornada, both for the far right as for the far left, at some point everyone used to joke about the only true source of news was a page similar to The Onion called El Deforma, that later got bought by Televisa. The Zabludovsky family have been linked for decades to Televisa.

    On a side note I did see fake news supporting AMLO at the start of the campaign that were using spanish from Spain, and lot of bots in Youtube writing AMLO on every single video that was trending in Mexico, on live videos there were always 10-20 bots writing AMLO constantly. The Twitter thing has been there since the 2012 presidential election, it kind of killed Twitter in Mexico, Twitter used to be pretty cool before that, now it's all bots, for everything, politics, sports, even adds.

  9. Nobody stops it because the same government uses around 65,000 bots to protect themselves from the attacks and criticism that society makes them, mainly due to corruption issues. And the government attacks from these accounts its opponents and political enemies. Do you want to know more about it? contact me

  10. somebody track the #ganaconvictorylab on twitter? it was existed for two minutes and was over the position 100 in trending topics on 15-jun-2018…. 100 sim at $99MXN each one is a $9900MXN at week. 4000 newspapers per the cost of domainname is like a $400,000MXN.
    this guy, the director of victorylabs says that he paid 1 millon for fake news.
    my point is… they spend a lot of money in a lot of things for only stay 2 minutos as a trending topic.
    is this a fakenews to? 😛 or maybe is real. but he is not the king of mexican fakenews.

  11. Your reporting on fake news when a few years ago your Fake news links were shared across Facebook. Hypocrites.

  12. Que mal video, hablando a medias o muy por encima del problema. Evidentemente esto solo es para tener visualizaciones

  13. Why would anyone believe anything BuzzFeed has to pseudo-report on? Fake news? The pot calling the kettle black…

  14. People who think it's easy really don't be ridiculous, is a genius of manipulation. You can recognize that he is quite skilled, you are not going to become immoral for doing it.

  15. The real problem is [are] the people that eat this stuff up. Mexico is undoubtedly full of ignorance and a seriously dangerous lack of interest to verify information.

  16. Zabludosky sounds fake😂😂😂 .As a mexican national I know fake news comes from MSM , just like in the States👊👊➖

  17. Anybody that utters a single negative word about our perfect and divine Lord Pejehova, is fake news and a servant of the evil power mafia. The power mafia is evil, except when they loan Lord Pejehova their stadiums and their actors and performers. All hail Lord Pejehova!

    Has the price of gas dropped yet?

  18. Toda la política es inmoral, lo dijeron ellos no yo… No PRI, no AMLO, no PAN, dijo TODA!
    Lo más triste es que este sujeto está orgulloso de su "trabajo" todo el poder para hacer el bien y se vende al mejor postor!
    Será que todos esos millenials estarán orgullosos también o se sentirán como escoria?

  19. Uuyy a buzzfeed le pagaron para desprestigiar a cierto candidato justo despues de las elecciones, buen trabajo

  20. mexicanos no deje entrar alos. los salvaputo o los gatapedos i hodupuedoros porce esos puto ciaso pasan por mexico asen rofo a nestos asiaso i nesto ninos

  21. Your part of the Antifa/blm/isis/kkk/bernie Sanders/Obama/Hillary/Soros/Hitler off spring traitors snowflakes DemocRATs terrorist groups paid actors by Hollywood
    perverts , fake news traitors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *