A reformation made in 2018 to the Spanish Data Protection Law would be responsible for the first trial in the country against a woman for allegedly sharing false information through online.
Although the reform to the law carried out two years ago was made to update the Spanish government’s policies with those proposed in the rest of the European community, politicians decided to use the opportunity to add an amendment that ironically cataloged fake news as a threat to free speech.
Since then, the government has used aggressive campaigns to reduce fake news in both public and private companies.
The effects of this amendment were already witnessed during the elections that took place in 2019 in the country, where social networks were heavily monitored to prevent the transmission of fake news.
The weeks before the elections were allegedly plagued with false information, according to the government, who went as far as deploying police teams to inspect social networks and prevent the manipulation of votes through misinformation.
They also resorted to the use of fact-checkers to reduce fake news. The platforms that most lent themselves to the dissemination of this content were Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.
However, so far no one had been sentenced to jail for spreading false information on purpose or accidentally.
Although this could change after government prosecutors denounced a woman who posted a video with a wrong caption.
The current case involves a woman who posted a tweet where foreign students were supposedly intimidating a Spanish teacher. The government quickly denied that this video was recorded in the country, indicating that it was in a school in Brazil.
“The woman, who lives near Barcelona, posted the video on Twitter in June along with a message claiming it was filmed in a school in Spain for migrant minors who had “entered Spain illegally,” according to the lawsuit filed by the public prosecutor’s office in Barcelona last month which has only now been made public.
‘I beg you to spread it so Spain becomes aware once and for all how grateful are those who we welcome,’ she added in her tweet according to the lawsuit.
The woman, who has been identified by police, “intended to link violence in the classroom with unaccompanied minors from other nations who come to our country, in order to denigrate them,” the lawsuit added.”
Subsequently, a group of prosecutors decided to denounce the woman who published it.
At the moment it is not known what the punishment of a person who disseminates false information could be since the law does not specify it.
It is possible that, if the woman is convicted, she will be sentenced to two years in jail if compared to similar lawsuits.
Additionally, the amendment also indicates that articles that humiliate a group of people could be treated as fake news.
The one who determines when something is humiliating has not become clear either, but some believe that this is a threat to free speech since users will be limited when sharing content if they aren’t sure of its source or if it is politically incorrect.