Catalonia: Madrid sounds alarm on fake news
The Spanish government has alleged that false social media user profiles and fake news from Russia and Venezuela have been used to boost support for the separatists, thus fanning the Catalonia crisis. For Europe's commentators a lot can be learned from the affair.
Spain's government more to blame than Putin
For the Spanish government the affair is a welcome opportunity to divert attention from its own failures, Der Bund observes:
“The government in Madrid is oversimplifying with its claims that Kremlin interference was an important factor for the escalation. This is a self-created conflict: Prime Minister Rajoy failed to defuse it with offers of compromises to Barcelona before it got out of hand. So the notorious troublemaker Putin is right when he says this is a Spanish internal affair.”
Citizens, retain your critical sense!
For La Vanguardia the hacker affair highlights how important it is for citizens to be critical in their media consumption:
“Some prefer to believe that these affairs are being used by the supposed victims as a screen behind which they can hide their own problems, whether it's Hillary Clinton's shortcomings, the difficulties the British prime minister is currently experiencing, etcetera. ... This discussion is understandable, but it may be superfluous. Because whenever someone tries to pull the strings from behind the scenes the main victims are the citizens. The only way for citizens to prevent this and other types of abuse is to adopt a more critical stance and reject any information that hasn't been scrutinised and verified by reliable media.”
Russia doesn't need tanks anymore
With its fake news and hacking Russia poses a threat to Europe's unity, De Volkskrant warns:
“The European governments have the feeling that serious things are going on which they can't control. ... Trump, who is causing a rift between America and Europe, the British break with the EU and the unrest in Spain - all this is good news for Putin, who is determined to win back the terrain his predecessors lost to the West. It must be very tempting for him to use social media to divide European democracies. Because this renders them less attractive as a model for the Russian people. Basically it doesn't really matter anymore how many tank divisions a Russian leader has - he has the Internet.”