Update (9/21/22): Since publication, three videos referenced in this article appear to have been removed from the platform.
Influential right-wing and conspiracy theory-focused YouTube channels often source their content from English-language right-wing media to spread misinformation to Spanish speakers, thus exposing them to narratives that they may have otherwise not seen.
YouTube has been the most commonly used social media platform in the United States since at least 2018 – including and especially among Hispanic people in the U.S. – and the Hispanic Congressional Caucus has identified the problem of YouTube misinformation as a “major priority.” Susan Wojcicki, the YouTube CEO, has been in contact with the caucus and pledged to work with it on this issue.
Media Matters has identified dozens of YouTube channels making content in Spanish that spread right-wing misinformation and conspiracy theories to Spanish-speaking YouTube audiences. These accounts have over 100,000 followers each and are translating or utilizing already translated articles from major outlets in English-language right-wing media, including Fox News, The Gateway Pundit, and The Epoch Times. One account that heavily peddled election fraud narratives has over 545,000 subscribers.
Some right-wing sites, like The Epoch Times, have separate websites dedicated to publishing content in Spanish, which is often directly translated from the site’s English-language content. Popular YouTube channels can serve as trusted messengers for otherwise immaterial right-wing misinformation, either introducing pre-translated content to their audiences or by translating it from English themselves.
YouTube channels are amplifying right-wing media content in Spanish
Spanish-language YouTube channels that promote false or misleading information cover a range of topics, from LGBTQ issues to the Biden administration. They typically add screenshots of right-wing articles — or, in some cases, Fox news clips — to their videos and summarize them. In our review, we found these channels often framed their content as general commentary while promoting right-wing talking points.
Below are just a few of the videos identified in our review:
- Right-wing YouTube personality John Acquaviva used Project Veritas content to peddle lies about “election irregularities” in 2020. Acquaviva claimed that the media was sabotaging former President Donald Trump in the months leading up to the 2020 election. Acquaviva’s video garnered over 432,000 views and is still currently up on YouTube, despite the platform’s explicit policies that ban “content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome” of U.S. presidential elections.
- An Informativo G24 YouTube video used an Epoch Times article in Spanish to downplay the January 6 insurrection. The video justified the insurrection, saying it was a result of Election Day “irregularities,” and defended former President Donald Trump’s actions before and after the attack. Informativo G24 had 545,000 subscribers as of publication.
- On a reposted livestream, YouTuber Eduardo Menoni spread conspiracy theories featuring articles from Gateway Pundit. The video started with an ad for a treatment referred to as “purified water” and ended with vague conspiracy theories about a “cabal” involving mainstream media, centering allegations against a former CNN staffer for child abuse. Menoni has over 189,000 subscribers on YouTube.
- Venezuela News used an Epoch Times article to peddle the narrative that the left is indoctrinating minors with an LGBTQ agenda and critical race theory. The video stated that “the radical agenda of the left, is the 2030 agenda, which seeks to indoctrinate young people, adolescents, and children, folks, with an ideology that goes against the principles established by God.”
- BLes Mundo used a Fox News clip of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spewing rhetoric echoing conspiracy theories about a supposed globalist cabal of elites at the World Economic Forum which meets in Davos, Switzerland. The video continued with several other segments, some of which peddled anti-LGBTQ narratives. BLes Mundo is a right-wing site that regularly publishes conspiracy theories. The channel has 298,000 subscribers.
- YouTube channel Venezuela News used an Epoch Times article to attack President Joe Biden and claim that his administration was prioritizing migrant children in the midst of a baby formula shortage in the U.S. Venezuela News has nearly 170,000 subscribers and routinely posts videos on conspiracy theories about U.S. political figures.
Right-wing media are exploiting the limited news sources for Latinos
By embedding this content in livestreams or videos with vague and sensationalist titles, these channels are delivering this right-wing content to audiences that otherwise may not have ever been exposed to it. In addition to sourcing right-wing media in their YouTube videos, these outlets or actors are also regularly publishing their content on other social media platforms like Facebook — effectively funneling English-language misinformation to Latinos via multiple online pathways.
Although YouTube promised to suspend channels that made false claims about widespread voter fraud following the attacks on the Capitol early last year, many of the channels Media Matters identified had high-engagement videos about the 2020 stolen election lie — including the above video on John Acquaviva’s channel.
In the United States, 85% of adults who identify as Hispanic use YouTube – making the platform a major source of information for the American Latino community. Univision and Telemundo are the only two major Spanish-language broadcast news networks in the U.S. The lack of diverse news sources for American Latinos may be leading communities to seek information on platforms like YouTube, which appear to offer diverse voices and content. However, access to misleading or false information online does not equate to a diverse information ecosystem. Latinos deserve better.