Among the more pernicious fake stories that circulated right around the Oct. 1 vote: a picture of the fingers of a woman, allegedly broken by police to stop her from voting; reports that a police officer sent to Catalonia to block the vote had died of a heart attack there, surrounded by activists; and a story of a 6-year-old boy paralyzed by police brutality.
Other fake news stories claimed that photos from a 2012 miners strike in Madrid actually depicted pro-independence Catalans injured during the vote. Some reports seemed intended simply to cause confusion. On social media, people circulated a photo of a man in a yellow shirt, claiming that he was an undercover police officer. As Maldito Bulo reported, he was in fact a pro-independence advocate.
…people sharing fake tweets from politicians and lots of videos of alleged tanks deployed in Catalonia.
El Pais reported that Russians were to blame, suggesting that news outlets such as Russia Today and Sputnik were circulating the fake stories to deepen divisions in Europe. According to Politico, Russian state-backed news organizations and bots aggressively pushed misinformation about the politically charged vote.