The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo are seeking to prevent the spread of misinformation on social media ahead of Argentina’s run-off election on November 19.
The human rights organization, which works to reunite children abducted by Argentina’s last military dictatorship (1976-1983) with their families, sent a letter to Google Argentina leaders on Monday calling for the tech company and its subsidiary, YouTube, to cease promoting content that denies the atrocities of the junta. The letter was addressed to the country managing director as well as the senior manager of public policy and government affairs. As of this writing, the executives had not responded.
“Recently, we have been made aware of a report referenced in the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12 entitled ‘Milei and social networks, a dangerous combination,’ which points to a preponderance of content that denies or minimizes the military dictatorship and the crimes committed during that dark period in our history,” the letter read.
Both far-right congressman Javier Milei and his vice presidential candidate Victoria Villarruel (La Libertad Avanza, LLA) have refused to acknowledge democratic consensus that the military killed or forcefully disappeared an estimated 30,000 people as a de facto state power.
In September, Villarruel held an apologist tribute at the Buenos Aires City legislature to honor the “victims” of Argentina’s left-wing forces during the 1970s and ‘80s. At the time, she decried an “amputated vision of human rights” that punished military officers for their crimes but not the guerrilla groups who opposed them.
“It is worrying to see how these falsehoods and distortions are spread through platforms like YouTube, perpetuating a narrative that openly contradicts the reality and suffering we experience as a society,” the Grandmothers said.
According to Contextual, an initiative of Digital Development of Latin America and the Caribbean (IDDLAC, by its Spanish acronym), there has been a steep uptick in the public’s exposure to denialist content in the weeks since the first presidential debate on October 1. One account alone — Break Point, a streamer with ties to the Milei campaign — received 340,000 views over two days.
“It is encouraging to know that in countries like Germany, Google, and YouTube have taken steps to prohibit content that denies or minimizes the Holocaust, recognizing the importance of not allowing falsehoods to spread about such a momentous and painful historical event,” the letter continued.
“We understand that freedom of expression is a fundamental principle, but we also believe that there is an ethical responsibility in the hosting, spreading, and algorithmic recommendation of information, especially when it concerns events as sensitive as the military dictatorship in Argentina.”
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