As English-language misinformation networks exploded in recent years with lies related to COVID-19, election integrity, and QAnon, similar outlets have also flourished in Spanish, with content ranging from run-of-the-mill conservatism to outlandish right-wing conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, platforms have struggled and sometimes failed to address misinformation in languages other than English.
One prolific purveyor of far-right Spanish-language misinformation is Tierra Pura, or Pure Land -- a website of articles aggregated from far-right staples like Breitbart and The Daily Caller and conspiracy theory sites like The Gateway Pundit, Great Game India, and National File. After surveying nearly 3,000 posts from Tierra Pura’s Telegram channel, Media Matters discovered over 1,100 instances in which the news aggregator amplified information from the aforementioned far-right news sites and similar fringe sources between July and December 2021.
Based in Argentina, Tierra Pura was created just before the coronavirus lockdowns in late March of 2020, establishing a social media presence on Telegram, Facebook, SafeChat, Rumble, and Instagram. Telegram is its main platform, with over 49,000 subscribers as of publication -- more than three times the number of subscribers it had in January of 2021. Additionally, Tierra Pura’s following on Facebook grew 132% between January 1 and December 31, 2021, with page likes also increasing by 121% during that same period.
As an online news publication, Tierra Pura is unusual in terms of its content production, which relies heavily on English-language articles from right-wing sites that are translated into Spanish and then reposted onto Tierra Pura’s social media platforms. This aggregated method means that Tierra Pura articles may vary widely in tone, but the vast majority of the content we reviewed pushes right-wing talking points, meaning that Tierra Pura’s Spanish-language audience is exposed to varying degrees of misinformation and conspiratorial narratives that are racist, anti-China, and anti-LGBTQ.
However, despite the fact that the site “appeared” in Argentina, there is no evidence linking Tierra Pura to any identifiable individuals or organizations native to that country. This places Tierra Pura alongside sources like RT (which publishes content in Spanish as well) in a troubling subcategory of misinformation that is infiltrative — where a non-native right-wing group disguises itself as an authentic news source to its readership and disseminates misinformation and right-wing talking points from other countries.
According to El Diario, Tierra Pura is affiliated with Chinese religious group Falun Gong, which has been described by the Chinese government as a “cult” and is engaged in a propaganda war against the Chinese Communist Party. The far-right publication The Epoch Times and the multilingual television broadcaster New Tang Dynasty (NTD) are also associated with Falun Gong, despite denying any direct association. Both outlets used social media platforms like Facebook to amplify false right-wing media claims of voter fraud in the lead-up to the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
For Spanish speakers, Tierra Pura opens a similar door into the world of right-wing misinformation from America and beyond.
Tierra Pura recycles both English far-right content (translated into Spanish) and far-right material that was originally written in Spanish. While the original English content is mainly sourced from U.S.-based publications, it also includes foreign outlets like Great Game India, RT, and Daily Mail. The Spanish-language material we reviewed comes from far-right and conspiracy theory sites based in Spain and Argentina.
Tierra Pura draws from many right-wing English-language publications, touching on themes including critical race theory, COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and anti-immigration, anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-China narratives. Certain outlets are utilized to hammer specific topics. For example, Great Game India, The True Defender, and Project Veritas are often sourced for COVID-19 conspiracy theories, while sources like Breitbart, Gateway Pundit, and PanAm Post produce heated anti-China narratives.
Spanish-speaking communities are particularly vulnerable to transnational disinformation, because it travels readily on platforms that Latinos often use to communicate with family and friends who live abroad. The disturbing trend of opaque online news fronts with far-right ties spreading content in Spanish seems to reveal an international interest in radicalizing these communities. Even more concerning is that the conspiracy theories pushed by these sites appear to capitalize on intergenerational traumas of repressive political regimes, human trafficking, disenfranchisement, and medical experimentation that still resonate in Latin American communities.
Below are some of the English-language sources Tierra Pura amplified most during our study period. (The number of amplifications is the number of times Tierra Pura either linked to the source directly on Telegram or linked to it within a piece that was posted on Telegram.)
- Tierra Pura often utilizes Breitbart articles to push fringe right-wing perspectives about immigration, culture war issues like critical race theory, the Biden administration, COVID-19, and China. Breitbart was amplified 168 times during the study period.
Children's Health Defense
- Children's Health Defense has been amplified by Tierra Pura 167 times, pushing anti-vaccine misinformation that the nonprofit organization is known for. The organization is headed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose anti-vaccine crusade has been associated with increased illnesses and deaths from preventable diseases.
- LifeSiteNews is an anti-choice publication based in Canada that pushes COVID-19 misinformation and right-wing conspiracy theories. Tierra Pura amplified LifeSiteNews 108 times during the study period to push coronavirus vaccine misinformation and right-wing conspiracy theories.
Great Game India
- Great Game India is a conspiracy theory site known for disseminating false stories regarding COVID-19’s origin as an alleged Chinese bioweapon. Tierra Pura used Great Game India 92 times during the study period, almost entirely to amplify false COVID-19 claims, including claims that the vaccine is unsafe.
Humans Are Free
- Humans Are Free is a far-right pseudoscience and conspiracy theory website that was amplified by Tierra Pura 75 times to promote anti-vaccine misinformation and “new world order” conspiracy theories. The BBC noted that the site had been a major amplifier of the “plandemic” conspiracy theory, with over 150,000 Facebook interactions.
- The Daily Mail is a British tabloid news site known for clickbait headlines and poor fact-checking. Tierra Pura amplified the site’s stories 61 times during the study period to spread a wide gamut of right-wing talking points and misinformation, including: vaccine misinformation, Hunter Biden’s relation to Ukraine and China, anti-LGBTQ, anti-China, and pro-Trump narratives, and COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
New York Post
- The New York Post is a Murdoch outlet known for fearmongering headlines and scandalizing unverified emails supposedly belonging to Hunter Biden. The news outlet was amplified by Tierra Pura 54 times during the study period to push generic right-wing talking points regarding President Joe Biden, LGBTQ issues, and critical race theory.
- The Gateway Pundit is a far-right website that spreads hyper partisan news and conspiracy theories. Tierra Pura utilized 51 Gateway Pundit articles during the study period to promote a wide array of right-wing talking points to Spanish-speaking readers, including far-right conspiracy theories about election integrity, ivermectin, and China.
The National File
- The National File is a fake news site known for spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19. This site was amplified 45 times by Tierra Pura in the study period, and the linked articles promoted attacks on Biden and amplified globalist conspiracy theories.
- Zero Hedge is a far-right financial news site frequently linked to on Gab and 8kun. In 2020, Zero Hedge was banned and later unbanned from Twitter after spreading conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19. In the lead-up to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. intelligence officials accused the site of spreading Russian propaganda. One official claimed sites like Zero Hedge are a “primary vector for how the Russian government will bolster support domestically for an invasion into Ukraine.” Tierra Pura amplified Zero Hedge 24 times to promote sensationalized news regarding China, COVID-19, and vaccines during the study period.
- Project Veritas’ far-right disinformation was amplified 22 times by Tierra Pura to promote anti-vaccine sentiments and attack mainstream media and social media platforms. Additionally, Tierra Pura has often reposted or translated articles sensationalizing Project Veritas’ “findings” from other right-wing publications.
The Daily Caller
- The Daily Caller is a right-wing news and opinion site based in Washington, D.C., that was founded in 2010 by Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel. Tierra Pura reposted the site's content 19 times during the study period, amplifying an array of right-wing talking points including on critical race theory, anti-immigration narratives, anti-LGBTQ narratives, and anti-China narratives. Media Matters has often reported on the Daily Caller's low journalistic standards and repeated connections to white supremacists and antisemites; the conservative outlet also frequently publishes “false or fabricated information.”
The Western Journal
- The Western Journal is a conservative political website founded by Floyd Brown, a political consultant who also founded Citizens United and served as executive director of the Young America's Foundation. The 17 Western Journal articles amplified by Tierra Pura during the study period consisted of general attacks on the left and anti-COVID-19 vaccination narratives.
Big League Politics
- Big League Politics is a far-right publication known for promoting conspiracy theories, “the Trump agenda,” and “nationalist causes.” Tierra Pura amplified the publication 9 times during our study to push globalist conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine narratives, anti-China narratives, and culture war narratives.
- The Blaze, a conservative media company founded by Glenn Beck, is primarily used by Tierra Pura to push anti-LGBTQ articles and was amplified 7 times during the study period.
The National Pulse
- The National Pulse is a right-wing news outlet currently edited by Raheem Kassam, a far-right figure in British politics who previously served as editor-in-chief of Breitbart News. Tierra Pura amplified 3 articles from the news outlet stirring anti-China sentiments, including one that blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic. Other articles before the study period have attacked Biden with claims that his administration has ties to communism and China.
Other far right sources amplified by Tierra Pura during the study period include Fox News, with 91 amplifications, RT with 60, China Watch with 42, Newsmax with 13, and fringe outlet RAIR with 3.
The fact that Tierra Pura sources thematically similar right-wing content from publications based around the world doesn’t just indicate an international network of misinformation — it also gestures to the emergence of a common set of beliefs shared by right-wing communities across national and linguistic borders. Because of translation engines like Tierra Pura, these communities can be increasingly brought together.
Media Matters collected the nearly 3,000 links posted by Tierra Pura on its Telegram channel over the five-and-a-half-month period between July 20 and December 30 of 2021. We then screened the data for posts that linked to the following 24 English-language right-wing outlets (either directly in the post or within the posted piece): Breitbart, Children’s Health Defense, Life Site News, Great Game India, Fox News, Humans Are Free, Daily Mail, RT, the New York Post, The Gateway Pundit, National File, China Watch Institute, The Epoch Times, Zero Hedge, The Daily Caller, The Western Journal, Newsmax, The Daily Wire, Big League Politics, Project Veritas, The Blaze, RAIR Foundation, and The National Pulse. We included all posts that linked to a direct translation of an article or included an embedded link to an article from one of the 24 domains.
Correction (4/4/22): This piece originally stated that Tierra Pura's “engagement” on Facebook had increased by 121% in 2021. In fact, it was specifically page “likes” that increased by that amount.