Slide . Case study: Foundation

How conspiracy groups in Spain worked to undermine the media literacy project of the Foundation

Report and investigation by Javier Luque Martinez, International Press Institute (IPI)

November 9, 2023


Journalists and experts trainers from in of the stands of the BuloBús project in Spain. Photo credit: – 2023.

The Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Spain that promotes public trust by combating misinformation and advocating for transparency through journalism, education, technology, research, and political action, has been the target of an intimidation and smear campaign by a collective of groups affiliated with conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine movements, and denialists, in the context of the municipal and regional elections in Spain on May 28, 2023.

The campaign aimed to undermine and discredit the ‘BuloBús: Tour against disinformation‘ project, a media literacy initiative by the Foundation with the support of Google News Initiative. In this initiative, a van with six journalists and expert trainers traveled through 20 villages in Spain from April 11 to May 19, with the goal of helping members of the public identify false information and scams commonly received on their mobile phones. The initiative included several activities such as an information point with educational materials for an older audience, a course on disinformation for young people, and a small theater performance.

Several accounts on X (formerly Twitter) associated with members of conspiracy theories and various Telegram channels organized to sabotage activities in some of the locations and encourage an intimidation and smear campaign against the organization. Members of these groups demonstrated in front of the stand of BuloBús [translated as “HoaxBus”] with signs labeling the journalists and the organisation as ‘censors’, ‘accomplices of genocide’, among others, in at least 9 of the first 10 towns that the BuloBús had marked on its itinerary.

In this big data case study, we analyze how smear campaigns against independent media and attacks on social media serve to consolidate conspiracy narratives aimed at misinforming the public. This case is particularly illustrative because one of the consequences of the campaign was that the inhabitants of the towns where these media literacy events were organized were prevented from accessing a source of independent, fact-based information.

Description of the disinformation campaign

The harassment campaign began on April 10, the same day launched the BuloBús project. The organization posted a video on X featuring Clara Jiménez Cruz, co-founder of and current CEO, explaining the project.

However, Maldita had to delete the original tweet due to the onslaught of hate messages, threats, and insults that flooded the comments. Some X accounts then pointed out that had deleted the tweet, once again triggering a proliferation of hate messages against the organization. Some of the messages that have been recovered include veiled threats encouraging people to throw eggs at the BuloBús, where the journalists were traveling.

Tweet 1: We will be waiting for you in many cities with open arms 😉 Tweet 2: Come to mine and tell me what is true and what is a lie.

The team identified several messages in the first 48 hours since the project was launched on at least 11 Telegram channels calling for a campaign to undermine the media literacy initiative. These channels are known in Spain for spreading conspiratorial, denialist, and anti-vaccine disinformation narratives. In fact, some of them had already been the subject of study in the investigation that published in December 2022 on the distribution patterns of denialist content in the two years following the coronavirus pandemic.

So, the disinformation campaign and intimidation that initially had been confined to social media in the first hours after the project’s announcement soon materialized in real life. Several members of these conspiracy groups showed up in the first towns to sabotage’ work.

According to a video published on the Albacete Libre Association‘s website, and later distributed on X by the account @SubidonA, several members of this association appeared in La Roda (Albacete), the first town that BuloBús visited on April 11, 2023. According to the association’s website, it was an “informative” action. The members positioned themselves around’ stand holding banners with messages such as “Why so much censorship?” and “Your fear is their weapon,” among other banners with a marked denialist and anti-vaccine character.

Message: Ana Pastor’s [founder of another factchecking organization] “Bulobus” has been scratched today in Estepa [actually, that event was in another town called La Roda], Albacete.Let’s see if Murcia has taken note, yours is the next one!

In the video, there’s also a mention of the funding source for BuloBús. The camera pans through the van and stops at the Google News Initiative logo while the narrator says, “We return to the NODO [news bulletin from Franco’s regime during Spain’s dictatorship], we return to the ‘ministries of truth.’ And, as it says here, funded with the support of Google. We asked them, ‘Who is Google?’ and they don’t know. That is to say, this is funded by elites that no one knows, not even their own employees.”

Another example of these types of actions: On April 27, 2023, in a new video distributed this time on the Liberum Association’s X account –@Aso_Liberum–, several people are shown near the BuloBús van in Llodio (Álava) holding banners with messages such as “You are complicit in genocide,” “The Ministry of Truth bus,” and “How many lives has your censorship cost?” All of them referring to’ work during the coronavirus pandemic when they fact-checked hoaxes and disinformation that proliferated on social media during the pandemic.

Due to the content of the messages that began to spread on social media, as well as those that reached’ social media channels, the foundation decided to file a complaint with the police in Spain and got in touch with all the towns that were part of the itinerary to request security support in each one of them. According to, these types of actions were organized in 9 out of the first 10 towns of the itinerary that BuloBús had planned.

In this context, changed its strategy for the second leg of the tour and asked the towns to change all the dates of the tour in order to dismantle the coordinated actions of groups that were trying to sabotage the activities in each location. The BuloBús did not go to the towns where the change of date could not be guaranteed. This is how the itinerary was limited to 17 out of the 20 that were initially planned. However, out of these 17 towns, activities could not be carried out in 2 of them because the security of the team couldn’t be guaranteed – Calatayud and Langreo –, as some members of these groups showed up at the hotels where Maldita’s journalists and trainers were staying.

These attempts at undermining the Bulobus initiative – or ‘informative’ actions, as some members of these groups called them – suggest that the campaign of intimidation and discrediting against was a coordinated effort. Therefore, this case study focuses, first, on understanding how the coordination took place to prevent this media literacy initiative – BuloBús – from reaching the public organically. Second, it analyzes the disinformation narratives used to discredit the work of Third, it seeks to expose some of the key actors who encouraged these actions and the channels they used to spread narratives and actions against this foundation in Spain.

Coordination of the smear campaign

As we have previously described, the first attempt to undermine the BuloBús project by some conspiracy theory groups took place on April 11, 2023, in the first town of the tour and just 24 hours after the announcement of the initiative. This suggests that there was already a certain level of coordination among members of these denialist groups in the early hours after’ announcement.

The first messages we have evidence of encouraging a campaign against the BuloBús project come from a tweet by the account @AdaaLoveLacee on April 11. The tweet reads: “What do we do with them?” quoting a tweet from Maldita describing both the activities and the tour that BuloBús will take. In the same tweet, there is a screenshot of a news article that published two years earlier, during the coronavirus pandemic, about the vaccination of preadolescents.

On April 11, 2023

The message from @AdaaLoveLacee was published at 10:30:01 AM on April 11, 2023. A few minutes later on the same day, messages calling for a coordinated campaign against BuloBús began to proliferate from several X accounts.

In collaboration with Kivu Technologies, we have been able to obtain part of the tweets and messages published by a group of 22.440 accounts in X (former Twitter) and 11 Telegram channels between April 10, 2023 – the day the BuloBús project was announced –, and May 30, 2023, two days after the municipal and regional elections in Spain held on May 28.

We will see later (see ‘Main actors involved in the campaign’ section) how these X users are connected to each other, but for now, let’s present the different tweets that were shared in that group of accounts 24 hours after the project’s launch, on April 11, 2023, between 10:30:01 and 18:59:05.

La gira de la desinformación de maldita…por los pueblos de España…para enseñarnos que es verdad y que es mentira…

Se acaban hasta las palabras para comentar esto…Que bajen los extraterrestres por favor…

Translation | The tour of the damned disinformation…through the villages of Spain…to teach us what is true and what is a lie….

I’m running out of words to comment on this…Let the aliens come down please…. 

Aso_Liberum 2023-04-11 11:35:17
RT @elazotedelnom: Aquí tenéis las fechas del Putobus por si queréis hacerle una visita

Translation | RT @elazotedelnom: Here are the dates of the Putobus (Fuckingbus) in case you want to pay him a visit.

aflorrick77 2023-04-11 12:29:58
RT @elazotedelnom: Deberíamos quedar todos para visitar en masa a estos degenerados y sus putos autobuses

Translation | RT @elazotedelnom: We should all meet up to visit en masse these degenerates and their fucking buses.

aflorrick77 2023-04-11 12:30:06
Hay que acabar con el TrolaBus! 👇👇👇👇

Translation | The TrolaBus (Lyingbus) must be stopped!👇👇👇👇

aflorrick77 2023-04-11 18:05:07
RT @rodriseiandrea: @MissisOrwell Yo os traigo una propuesta pacífica y nutritiva.


Translation | RT @rodriseiandrea: @MissisOrwell I bring you a peaceful and nourishing proposal.

#huevazoAlBuloBus (#ThrowEggsAtBuloBus)

MissisOrwell 2023-04-11 18:58:47
RT @Aloha79000: #HuevazoAlBuloBus


Translation | #ThrowEggsAtBuloBus #BuloBus

MissisOrwell 2023-04-11 18:59:05

As can be observed, several users were already inciting to sabotage BuloBús in the first few hours. Messages such as “Here are the dates of the ‘FuckingBus’ in case you want to pay it a visit,” “We must put an end to the ‘LyingBus’!” and “We should all meet up to mass visit these degenerates and their damn buses” were added, along with an attempt to channel the campaign on X through the hashtag “#HuevazoAlBulobus” (#ThrowegssAtBulobus)

Parallel to the activity taking place on X, on the same day, April 11, several channels on Telegram also shared the news and (similarly to Twitter) calls were made to coordinate actions to undermine the activities in different towns. identified several of these channels and provided us with this information to carry out the content analysis of the messages.

According to the information gathered by, the news and calls to sabotage the BuloBús initiative were published in at least 11 Telegram channels: Revelión en la Granja (1, 2), Azote del Nom –t his channel also played an active role on X through the user @azotedelnom –,  La Quinta Columna (1, 2, 3), Pancartas Amarillas (1), Resurgente 2020, Consciencia Colectiva Oficial, The Spanish Army, El Aullido Canal Fernando López-Mirones, El Loco de la Corrala, and in the channels of Alvise Pérez (1), and Rafapal, from whose Telegram channels has debunked several messages.

Here is a compilation of some of the messages shared in those Telegram channels on April 11:

2023-04-11 15:00:50+00:00 🚌 NO LO VAIS A CREER. MALDITA CREA EL “BULOBUS”

Irán de pueblo en pueblo “informando” a la población de lo que, según ellos, son bulos.

Espero que se organicen escuches contra el bulobus. No debe ser difícil encontrar su hoja de ruta.

Únete a 👉@ReVelionenlagranja


They will go from village to village “informing” the population of what, according to them, are hoaxes.

I hope they will organize hearings against the bulobus. It should not be difficult to find their roadmap.

Join 👉@ReVelionenlagranja

Channel title=’ReVelión en la granja comunidad’, 


2023-04-11 15:03:17+00:00 Hay que ser HDLGP

Procura no aparecer por mi pueblo porque vais a ver por donde os meto el bulobus


You have to be HDLGP (acronym of an strong insult)

Try not to show up in my town because you are going to see where I’ll stick the bulobus up in you

Channel title=’🔅 EL LOCO DE LA CORRALA 🔅’


2023-04-11 15:03:17+00:00 Hay que ser HDLGP

Procura no aparecer por mi pueblo porque vais a ver por donde os meto el bulobus


You have to be HDLGP (acronym of an strong insult)

Try not to show up in my town because you are going to see where I’ll stick the bulobus up in you



2023-04-11 20:33:27+00:00 Aquí vienen las fechas del bulobus, entre el 6 de mayo y 11 de mayo están en Linares (Jaén), Montoro ( Córdoba) y 2 pueblo de Badajoz, podríamos ayudarle a desarrollar su gran labor…es una idea

Here are the dates of the bulobus, between May 6 and May 11 are in Linares (Jaen), Montoro (Cordoba) and 2 towns of Badajoz, we could help you develop their great work … just an idea



2023-04-11 22:05:06+00:00 TOMEN NOTA DEL LUGAR Y FECHA



Channel title=’LA QUINTA COLUMNA TV’


On April 12, 2023

These types of messages multiplied starting from April 12. However, unlike the tweets and posts from the previous day, these now included photos and videos of the demonstrations that the Asociación Libre Albacete [Free Albacete Association] had carried out in La Roda, the first town on the itinerary. Specifically on X, most of the accounts identified in this campaign congratulated themselves on what they defined as the ‘success’ of the campaign:

RT @pancartasamar: “BuloBus”🤡

El Ministerio de la Verdad y sus censores, financiados por Google (Blackrock, etc.), saben que en la calle e…

RT @pancartasamar: “BuloBus”🤡.

The Ministry of Truth and its censors, funded by Google (Blackrock, etc.),

jose4ez 2023-04-12 8:12:14
RT @R0L0D_: 🔴Los de @maldita intentaron desinformar a incautos ayer en la Roda con el #BuloBus pero no les han dejado.

Próxima parada, Cie…


RT @R0L0D_: 🔴Those from @maldita tried to misinform unsuspecting people yesterday in la Roda with the #BuloBus but they haven’t let them.

MissisOrwell 2023-04-12 9:17:55
Qué grandes!!!… Hoy con el bulobus y su discurso único… 👇💥💥💥👌


How great!!!…. Today with the bulobus and its single narrative…. 👇💥💥💥👌

SubidonA 2023-04-12 10:07:51
RT @isabelvalenibi: BULOBUS, capítulo 1. y @Newtral

Nadie se fia de ellos son la DESINFORMACIÓN ‼️‼️

COMPARTIR ‼️‼️ Familia 👇🏼 https://t…



RT @isabelvalenibi: BULOBUS, chapter 1, @Newtral

Nobody trusts them; they are DISINFORMATION ‼️‼️ 

SHARE ‼️‼️

danialonpri 2023-04-12 11:50:17
Que dice @maldita que es una fundación. Genial


– Apoyos en 2022 entre otros:

Open Society Foundations

International Fact-Checking Network (Poynter)

– Puedes ver los estatutos aquí pero solo la puntita. Es decir la primera hora, para lo demás, paga


@maldita says is a foundation. Great!

Let’s see:

– Endorsements in 2022 among others:

Open Society Foundations

International Fact-Checking Network (Poynter).

– You can see the bylaws here but only the tippy tip. That is to say the first hour, for the rest, you pay

InesSainzOf 2023-04-12 12:06:13
Un saludo @maldita

Hi @maldita

InesSainzOf 2023-04-12 12:08:56
Todo apunta a que el #bulobus va a ser un éxito

Everything indicates that the #bulobus is going to be a success.

InesSainzOf 2023-04-12 12:20:18
RT @pancartasamar: “BuloBus”🤡

El Ministerio de la Verdad y sus censores, financiados por Google (Blackrock, etc.), saben que en la calle e…


RT @pancartasamar: “BuloBus”🤡.

The Ministry of Truth and its censors, funded by Google (Blackrock, etc.),

Yo_soy_JulyR 2023-04-12 12:45:34
RT @MatamalasJ: ⚠️ URGENTE‼️

@sanchezcastejon y su #GobiernoDeInutiles ponen en marcha a través de @maldita (entidad subvencionada con dinero público)

RT @MatamalasJ: ⚠️ URGENT‼️ @sanchezcastejon and his #UselessGovernment set in motion through @maldita (a publicly subsidized entity)

Buenrolloreturn 2023-04-12 12:49:46
Los de Neutrola no conformes con fracasar y desinformar en Twitter sin éxito alguno, van a gastar el dinero de tus impuestos en un “bulobus” que está destinado al fracaso absoluto…



Those from Neutrola, not content with failing and spreading misinformation on Twitter with no success, are going to spend your tax money on a “Bulobus” destined for absolute failure…

Buenrolloreturn 2023-04-12 12:54:10
RT @AntonioSH19: @Buenrolloreturn @tuiterolibre1 Tal vez le interese a usted el itinerario de este impresentable y orwelliano #BuloBus



RT @AntonioSH19: @Buenrolloreturn @tuiterolibre1 Perhaps you are interested in the itinerary of this disgraceful and Orwellian #BuloBus


Buenrolloreturn 2023-04-12 13:08:07
Escrachean al Bulobus de Maldita en Albacete.


They scratched the Maldita’s BuloBús in Albacete.

wallstwolverine 2023-04-12 14:32:29
RT @ultimocolinesio: Vamos al #BuloBus a contarle el bulo de los últimos 3 años 👇


We’re going to the #BuloBus to tell them about the hoax of the last 3 years 👇

aflorrick77 2023-04-12 14:35:30
RT @AntonioSH19: @Buenrolloreturn @tuiterolibre1 Tal vez le interese a usted el itinerario de este impresentable y orwelliano #BuloBus




RT @AntonioSH19: @Buenrolloreturn @tuiterolibre Maybe you are interested in the itinerary of this unsightly and Orwellian #BuloBus.

fvinas96 2023-04-12 16:53:53

These tweets already use a significant portion of the disinformation narratives that these groups have employed to discredit the work of the fact-checkers: They accuse them of applying censorship against information that is not in the interest of global economic elites, label them as the ‘Ministry of Truth’ (in reference to George Orwell’s book 1984) in an autocratic system, and attempt to spread a single discourse with the goal of misinforming the public so that they do not know – as these groups define it – ‘the truth.’

The same pattern of messages and conversations was observed on X until at least April 27, 2023.

1 Últimos en recuperar PIB

2 Confinamientos ilegales

3 943 vioIadores beneficiados

4 Rebaja de malversación

5 Trenes más grandes que los túneles

6 Tito Berni

7 Medios y sindicatos corrompidos

Pregúntale sobre ello al BuloBús cuando llegue a tu pueblo.


1. Last country in GDP recovery

2. Illegal lockdowns

3. 943 rapists benefited

4. Reduction of embezzlement

5. Trains bigger than tunnels

6. Tito Berni

7. Corrupted media and unions

Ask BuloBús about it when it arrives in your town.

CapitanBitcoin 2023-04-13 9:00:10
RT @exememexe: Los del #BuloBus quieren que paséis a saludarles, sino podéis porque os pilla lejos, su teléfono móvil de contacto es el (+3…


RT @exememexe: The #BuloBus team wants you to drop by and say hello. If you can’t because it’s too far, their contact mobile phone is [phone number].

aflorrick77 2023-04-13 19:12:26
De hoy. No se cansan de difundir bulos. ” Malditabulobus” dónde andas😂😂😂


From today. They don’t get tired of spreading hoaxes. “Malditabulobus” where are you? 😂😂😂

JuanMuncc 2023-04-14 11:59:04
RT @euskalnewsmedia: La ruta del #BuloBús de Maldito Bulo, por si queréis pasar a saludar.


RT @euskalnewsmedia: The itinerary of Maldito Bulo’s #BuloBús, in case you want to drop by and say hello.

SaBpons 2023-04-14 15:07:53
RT @Cyandeceres: Me llega que lo del #BuloBus está saliendo regular…

RT @Cyandeceres: I hear that the #BuloBus thing is not going well…

qwertyeusk 2023-04-20 13:41:01



ultimocolinesio 2023-04-21 13:11:13



ultimocolinesio 2023-04-21 18:43:56
RT @pancartasamar: Hoy, BuloBus en Cantabria ⬇️


RT @pancartasamar: Today, BuloBus is in Cantabria ⬇️

MissisOrwell 2023-04-26 14:35:16
RT @pancartasamar: Hoy, BuloBus en Cantabria ⬇️


RT @pancartasamar: Today, BuloBus is in Cantabria ⬇️

aflorrick77 2023-04-26 14:52:17
Continúa el éxito del bulobus…


The success of the BuloBus continues…

SubidonA 2023-04-27 10:03:45
Recibiendo a los del Bulobus en Llodio(Álava)…como se merecen, con mensajes de verdad… @euskalnewsmedia gracias


             ¡VIVA LA LIBERTAD!

                Nuestras Redes:


Welcoming the BuloBús team in Llodio (Álava)… as they deserve, with messages of truth… @euskalnewsmedia thanks



Our social media accounts:

Aso_Liberum 2023-04-27 10:44:18

All these calls on X and Telegram to sabotage the BuloBús initiative materialized in the creation of a channel to coordinate actions against the BuloBús project. The channel was called  ‘¿Dónde está el Bulobús?’ (‘Where is the Bulobús?’).

It was not possible to obtain all the messages from this channel (‘Where is the Bulobús?’) because the administrator deleted all existing messages until May 4. According to a post from the channel’s administrator, the messages were deleted due to the amount of content shared that was not related to its main objective, coordinating actions against’ project.

We have decided to redact the usernames of the participants in this group but not the content of the messages, which holds clear journalistic value. This case study will focus only on the X accounts (former Twitter) and Telegram channels that played a fundamental role and exert influence over the rest of the users.

2023-05-04 23:18:37+00:00 BUENAS NOCHES GRUPO

Cómo podréis ver he eliminado todo el chat para que se inicié de nuevo, de modo que esté centrado en la temática del momento en cuestión.

En estos momentos, recordemos que estamos para el boicot del BuloBus que inició su recorrido por España el día 11 de Abril en Roda (Albacete), que cómo todos los presente sabemos, tenemos material compartido que antes de eliminar el chat he guardado y ahora en lo que vaya pudiendo volver a subir.

Y, cómo se que cada uno somos de padres, madres y sitios diferentes, habrá a quienes quizás no le guste mi acción de dar comienzo al chat, lo siento y espero que entiendan que he pensado que era necesario en vista del rumbo que estaba cogiendo el grupo.

Compartir y seguir moviendo informaciones de la que ya tenemos por todos los sitios, no sirve de nada. Hay que estar informados, claro que sí pero no seguir circulando lo mismo una y otra vez. Ahora lo que toca es tomar acción, aportar, dar ideas y trabajar en conjunto para defender la verdad.

⚠️ AVISO⚠️

He instalado un Bot en el grupo para controlar un poco quién entra y demás, ya que hay millones de troll y personas que entran para el enfrentamiento y división, por lo que pido por favor que si notan algún error me lo comuniquen, bien por aquí etiquetando me @XXX (username has been redacted to protect the intended privacy of the members of this channel) o bien escribiendo por privado. Es la primera vez que trabajo con Bot.

Gracias por estar y seguimos en la batalla.




As you can see, I have deleted the entire chat so that it can start anew, focused on the current theme.

At the moment, let’s remember that we are here for the sabotage of BuloBus, which started its journey through Spain on April 11 in Roda (Albacete). As everyone present knows, we have shared material that I saved before deleting the chat, and I will gradually re-upload it.

I know that we all come from different backgrounds, parents, and places, and some may not like my action of restarting the chat. I apologize, and I hope you understand that I thought it was necessary given the direction the group was taking.

Sharing and continuing to circulate information that we already have everywhere is pointless. We need to be informed, yes, but not keep circulating the same things over and over. Now it’s time to take action, contribute, give ideas, and work together to defend the truth.

⚠️ NOTICE ⚠️

I have installed a Bot in the group to control who enters and more, as there are millions of trolls and people who enter for confrontation and division. Therefore, I ask that if you notice any errors, please let me know, either by tagging me @XXX (username has been redacted to protect the intended privacy of the members of this channel) here or by writing privately. It’s the first time I’m working with a Bot.

Thanks for being here, and we continue in the battle.



However, we can infer that the channel was created at some point between April 10 and 13, as the first evidence we have of the channel’s existence was on April 13 in a message posted by other channels, such as ‘El Loco de la Corrala’ and ‘Conciencia Colectiva Oficial,’ whose messages were published with just a 1-second difference.

2023-04-13 19:35:47+00:00 Han creado este chat para recabar información sobre el maldito “bulobus”, lugares donde se encuentra, boicots, etc

Aquí lo dejo por si interesa👇

They have created this chat to gather information about the damn “bulobus,” its locations, boycotts, etc. I’ll leave it here in case it’s of interest👇

Channel title=’🔅 EL LOCO DE LA CORRALA 🔅’, username=’ellocodelacorralachannel’
2023-04-13 19:35:48+00:00 Han creado este chat para recabar información sobre el maldito “bulobus”, lugares donde se encuentra, boicots, etc

Aquí lo dejo por si interesa👇

They have created this chat to gather information about the damn “bulobus,” its locations, boycotts, etc. I’ll leave it here in case it’s of interest👇

Channel  title=’🔅 CONSCIENCIA COLECTIVA OFICIAL🔅’, username=’ccoficial’, 

In fact, the extensive investigation that published on December 19, 2022, examining the distribution patterns of denialist misinformation in Spain via Telegram, concluded that the two channels that shared the news most frequently were precisely ‘El Loco de la Corrala’ and ‘Consciencia Colectiva Oficial.’

Based on the messages that have been gathered from this channel, available only from May 4 onwards, users continued to share the itinerary of BuloBús and encouraged others to coordinate and participate in actions against the project in different towns. Some of the messages have been reposted, as the group’s administrator warned after deleting all messages prior to May 4.

Among the recovered messages, group members requested the sharing of videos or photographs of their actions in different locations, with the intention of learning and gaining ideas for actions against BuloBús in the upcoming stops on the itinerary.

2023-05-04 23:49:37+00:00 Este es el listado completo de municipios en los que estará hasta el 20 de mayo.

– La Roda (Albacete), 11 de abril

– Cieza (Murcia), 13 de abril

– Burriana (Castellón), 15 de abril

– Torredembarra (Tarragona), 17 de abril

– Calatayud (Zaragoza), 19 de abril

– Alfaro (La Rioja), 21 de abril

– Barañáin (Navarra), 22 de abril

– Llodio (Álava), 24 de abril

– Castro Urdiales (Cantabria), 26 de abril

– Langreo (Asturias), 28 de abril

– Mora (Toledo), 3 de mayo

– Herencia* (Ciudad Real), 5 de mayo

– Linares (Jaén), 6 de mayo

– Montoro (Córdoba), 8 de mayo

– Calamonte (Badajoz), 10 de mayo

– Barcarrota (Badajoz), 11 de mayo

– Béjar (Salamanca), 13 de mayo

– Toro (Zamora), 15 de mayo

– Allariz (Ourense), 16 de mayo

– Bueu (Pontevedra), 19 de mayo


EN CADA LUGAR DICEN QUE ESTARÁN DE 10:00-14:00 con stand de “desinformación, propaganda, adoctrinando” y por la tarde al 17:00/h realizarán actividades cuentan. Más información en su web

Si alguien tiene fotos o vídeos de actuaciones para boicotear al BuloBus, que aún no se haya compartido, puede pasarlos. En el siguiente link puedes ver lo que se ha compartido hasta ahora:

(podemos aprender y coger ideas)


– La Roda (Albacete), 11 de abril

– Cieza (Murcia), 13 de abril

– Burriana (Castellón) 15 Abril

– Torredembarra (Tarragona) 17 Abril

– Calatayud (Zaragoza), 19 de abril

– Alfaro (La Rioja), 21 de abril

– Barañáin (Navarra), 22 de abril

– Llodio (Álava), 24 de abril

– Castro Urdiales (Cantabria), 26 de abril

– Langreo (Asturias), 28 de abril

– Mora (Toledo), 3 de mayo


Sugeridas para poner ¡Ya! de entrada en las paradas del BuloBus

Gracias por estar💪✨😘


This is the complete list of municipalities where will be until May 20.

– La Roda (Albacete), April 11

– Cieza (Murcia), April 13

– Burriana (Castellón), April 15

– Torredembarra (Tarragona), April 17

– Calatayud (Zaragoza), April 19

– Alfaro (La Rioja), April 21

– Barañáin (Navarra), April 22

– Llodio (Álava), April 24

– Castro Urdiales (Cantabria), April 26

– Langreo (Asturias), April 28

– Mora (Toledo), May 3

– Herencia* (Ciudad Real), May 5

– Linares (Jaén), May 6

– Montoro (Córdoba), May 8

– Calamonte (Badajoz), May 10

– Barcarrota (Badajoz), May 11

– Béjar (Salamanca), May 13

– Toro (Zamora), May 15

– Allariz (Ourense), May 16

– Bueu (Pontevedra), May 19


IN EACH PLACE, THEY SAY THEY WILL BE FROM 10:00-14:00 with a “disinformation, propaganda, indoctrination” stand, and in the afternoon at 17:00, they will perform activities. More information on their website

If anyone has photos or videos of actions to boycott the BuloBus that have not been shared yet, they can share them. In the following link, you can see what has been shared so far:

(we can learn and get ideas)


– La Roda (Albacete), April 11

– Cieza (Murcia), April 13

– Burriana (Castellón) April 15

– Torredembarra (Tarragona) April 17

– Calatayud (Zaragoza), April 19

– Alfaro (La Rioja), April 21

– Barañáin (Navarra), April 22

– Llodio (Álava), April 24

– Castro Urdiales (Cantabria), April 26

– Langreo (Asturias), April 28

– Mora (Toledo), May 3


Suggested to play at the BuloBus stops

Thanks for being there 💪✨😘

2023-05-04 23:53:00+00:00 💡🎵🎶📻 Ideas de Canciones para hacer sonar en las paradas del BuloBus.

Compartidas por la compañera @XXXX (name redacted) del grupo LOS CACHIRULOS VERDES



💡🎵🎶📻 Song Ideas to Play at the BuloBus Stops.

Shared by the companion @XXXX (name redacted) from the LOS CACHIRULOS VERDES group.


2023-05-05 07:19:38+00:00 Buenos días!

Hay alguien por Herencia (Ciudad Real) que vaya a ir a recibir el BuloBus?


Good morning!

Is anyone in Herencia (Ciudad Real) planning to go and welcome the BuloBus?

2023-05-05 09:25:04+00:00 Contenido audiovisual de @✨Luna🌙 compartido en el grupo de la LQC y reenviado por @Santos el 13 Abril 2023



Atención a todas las provincias LQC por donde rula el burdobus!

Estando en la calle no te pueden acallar, tenemos derecho a permanecer y no pasa nada por hablar. Es una ocasión de oro para quejarnos de la censura en redes y en sacar todo lo que aclamar a viva voz con todo a favor.


Estamos en nuestro derecho.

Mira el video 👍✨️👀

Audiovisual content from @✨Luna🌙 shared in the LQC group and forwarded by @Santos on April 13, 2023



Attention to all LQC provinces where the burdobus is running!

Being on the street, they cannot silence you. We have the right to stay, and there’s nothing wrong with speaking up. It’s a golden opportunity to complain about censorship on social media and to shout out everything we support with a loud voice.

Let’s organize!

We are within our rights.

Watch the video 👍✨️👀

2023-05-05 09:41:46+00:00 Aquí se puede ver material relacionado con la parada del BuloBus

La Roda (Albacete) 11 Abril

Cieza (Murcia) 13 Abril SIN MATERIAL

Burriana (Castellón) 15 Abril

Torredembarra, hoy 17 Abril…

Calatayud (Zaragoza) 19 Abril


Alfaro (La Rioja) 21 Abril

Sólo @Adosgel

Barañáin (Navarra) 22 Abril

Llodio (Álava) 24 Abril

Acción del grupo Pancartas Amarilla

Castro Urdiales (Cantabria) 26 Abril

Acción del grupo Pancartas Amarilla

Langreo (Asturias) 28 Abril

(no se han presentado)

(acto suspendido)

Vamos bien compis! 💪✨


Video Youtube

Gracias compañeros!! 💪Yeard!✨


Here you can see material related to the BuloBus stops

La Roda (Albacete) April 11

[Link 1](

[Link 2](

[Link 3](

Cieza (Murcia) April 13 NO MATERIAL

Burriana (Castellón) April 15

Torredembarra, today, April 17…

Calatayud (Zaragoza) April 19

ABORTED STOP [Link to video](

Alfaro (La Rioja) April 21

Only @Adosgel

Barañáin (Navarra) April 22

Llodio (Álava) April 24

Action from the Pancartas Amarilla group

Castro Urdiales (Cantabria) April 26

Action from the Pancartas Amarilla group

Langreo (Asturias) April 28

(not presented)

(event suspended)

We’re doing well, comrades! 💪✨


YouTube Video

Thank you, colleagues!! 💪Yeard!✨

2023-05-06 21:57:30+00:00 Buenas noches!

De Montoro tenemos quienes vayan hacer acto de presencia al BuloBus el día 8?

Good evening!

Do we have anyone from Montoro who will be present at the BuloBus on the 8th?

2023-05-09 18:39:35+00:00 Buenas tardes! Alguien sigue interesado en éste grupo? Veo el tema del BuloBus muy parado.

Si ya no hay movimientos, voy eliminar el grupo

Good afternoon! Is anyone still interested in this group? I see the BuloBus topic very quiet. If there are no more activities, I will delete the group.

2023-05-09 19:01:48+00:00 El grupo lo voy a eliminar pronto porque veo que el BuloBus está parado.

I’m going to delete the group soon because I see that the BuloBus is inactive.

Messages from this group have only been obtainable until May 10, when members of the group issued a call to gather at the activities that BuloBús had scheduled in Calamonte (Badajoz) for that same day.

2023-05-10 09:29:50+00:00 MENOS MAL QUE NO HICE EL VIAJE Que no estamos para derrochar!

En la localidad de Calamonte no tienen conocimiento de ningún autobús, BuloBus ni nada.


THANK GOODNESS I DIDN’T MAKE THE TRIP. We can’t afford to waste!

In the town of Calamonte, they have no knowledge of any bus, BuloBus, or anything.


2023-05-10 15:47:43+00:00 Buenas tardes, yo vivo en Calamonte y cuando e llegado de trabajar me he pasado por la plaza donde hace unos dias anunciaban que se iva a colocar el Bulobus y no habia nada, era sobre la una del medio dia

Good afternoon, I live in Calamonte, and when I arrived from work, I went to the square where a few days ago they announced that the BuloBus would be placed, and there was nothing. It was around noon.

The last message we have obtained from this group illustrates the purpose for which this group had been created.

2023-05-10 19:53:18+00:00 Les hemos ganado!! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻

Esa bazofia de bulobus se ha ido con el rabo entre las piernas!!


We’ve won!! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻

That rubbish BuloBus has left with its tail between its legs!!


It’s worth noting that the BuloBús was able to continue its activities in the remaining towns until May 16, in Toro (Zamora). In total, the media literacy initiative reached 1,900 people over the age of 65 and nearly 500 students in the local high schools through the planned activities.

Main actors involved in the campaign

Among the actors who have fueled this harassment campaign against and the attempts to undermine the BuloBús initiative are associations, groups and individuals who introduce themselves as independent journalists. They use their channels on Telegram and accounts on X to distribute denialist and conspiratorial content. However, this case study focuses on those actors whose level of influence is predominant, setting aside the dozens of X or Telegram users who participated in this campaign organically.

Step 1:

The investigation initially focused on the X platform, as dozens of accounts reacted with messages of intimidation and violence to’ tweet. We used the technology developed by, a platform that applies OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) to establish connections between different actors, to understand if the authors of all these messages were connected and to identify the most influential actors in this network on X (formerly Twitter) through social network analysis.

As mentioned earlier (Section 2: Description of the disinformation campaign), we selected the Twitter account @AdaaLoveLacee, which on April 11 posted the message: “¿con estos qué hacemos?” (“What do we do with these?“). This is known as the “seed” account.

A first analysis of the influence network of @AdaaLoveLacee resulted in a total of 22,440 accounts on X (or nodes) and 1,490,510 interactions between them (Graph 1).

Graph 1: Initial map with 22,440 users on X and 1,490,510 interactions between them.

The eigenvector algorithm was applied, which analyzes the level of influence that an account exerts on the rest, either because its content is frequently shared, commented on, or interacted with through ‘likes,’ retweets, or comments on its messages, for example. From the initial 22,440 users, the 30 most influential X accounts were identified with which the seed account @AdaaLoveLacee (in purple) interacted most frequently (Graph 2)

Graph 2: 30 most influential accounts in the X network based on the eigenvector algorithm.

It’s important to note that not all the actors appearing in this graph (Graphic 2) participated in the campaign to discredit For example, the accounts (in green) @Santi_ABASCAL (Santiago Abascal), leader of the Spanish far-right political party VOX, and @IdiazAyuso (Isabel Díaz Ayuso), president of the regional government of Madrid and prominent member of the conservative political party Partido Popular, did not participate in any way in the campaign to discredit, which is limited to the BuloBús project, and in the analysis period established: from April 10 to May 30, 2023.

However, as we will see later in the narrative network analysis, both accounts exert a high level of influence in this network as their principles and messages are frequently shared by the rest of the accounts present in this network.

In red, the X accounts that also have a Telegram channel and have participated in some way in the campaign to hinder the activities of’ BuloBús project stand out. They either coordinate the campaign or encourage such actions.

Among them is the X user @ultimocolinesio (13,200 followers), whose Telegram channel, El Colin Rivas Show (13,679 subscribers), encouraged followers to undermine the BuloBús initiative from the early days (Graph 3).

Graph 3.

The channel shared a first message on April 12, showing the dates and locations of the itinerary that BuloBús would follow.

On the same day, April 12, it posted a new message that included a video of the sabotage that had taken place in La Roda (Albacete), in which the Albacete Libre Association had been involved.

We have been able to compile up to nine messages in the Colin Rivas Show channel between April 12 and 21, 2023. The vast majority of them were links to videos posted on his own website or disseminating videos or photos from other groups carrying out various actions.


The X account (@FLMIRONES) of the scientist Fernando López Mirones also appears among the most influential in this network (Graph 4). In fact, has written articles debunking the denialist and anti-vaccine claims of López Mirones.

Graph 4.

While no tweets from @FLMIRONES have been found on X encouraging the campaign against BuloBús, there is a previous message from March 14 in which a veiled warning is given to and several other media outlets. It suggests that the presence of lawyers at an event in which he participated could lead to legal action against these media outlets in case they dared to report on it.

#MIRONEWS Aviso a los de @laSextaTV a @Newtral y a @maldita que no hagan planes este sábado porque tenemos otro evento en Madrid, todavía quedan plazas. Esta vez con ABOGADOS. ¿Se apuntan? Un aullido

Translation |

#MIRONEWS Warning to those from @laSextaTV, @Newtral, and @maldita not to make plans this Saturday because we have another event in Madrid, there are still spots available. This time with LAWYERS. Are you joining? A howl
FLMIRONES 2023-03-14 10:31:07

However, López Mirones has encouraged undermining the BuloBús initiative on his Telegram channel El Aullido. Several of these messages informed about a campaign against and Newtral (even though BuloBús is only an initiative of In fact, on April 14, he echoed the creation of the Telegram channel ‘¿Dónde está el BuloBús?’

The messages were accompanied by memes depicting Ana Pastor (founder of Newtral) as a defeated boxer, and it encouraged throwing eggs at van in different towns. The channel also posted a graphic depicting photos of the two founders of, Clara Jiménez Cruz and Julio Montes, portraying them as part of a broader scheme of factchecking organisations that aim at censoring his publications (see Narratives section).

Asociación Liberum (@Aso_Liberum, Graph 5).

Graph 5.

On its website, Liberum presents itself as a non-profit association defending human rights and individual freedoms. It primarily promotes collective lawsuits or transparency appeals against national and European institutions in protest of the restrictive measures adopted by governments to combat the coronavirus pandemic. has debunked the claims on which some of these appeals were based.

The X account of the Liberum association was one of the first to echo the BuloBús project in a tweet on April 11, labeling the initiative as a tour of disinformation:

La gira de la desinformación de maldita…por los pueblos de España…para enseñarnos que es verdad y que es mentira…

Se acaban hasta las palabras para comentar esto…Que bajen los extraterrestres por favor…

The disinformation tour of Maldita… through the towns of Spain… to teach us what is true and what is false…

There are not even words to comment on this… Please, let the aliens come and see this…

Aso_Liberum 2023-04-11 11:35:17

Later, on April 27, the association shared on social media the actions they conducted against the BuloBús in Llodio (Álava).

Recibiendo a los del Bulobus en Llodio(Álava)…como se merecen, con mensajes de verdad… @euskalnewsmedia gracias


             ¡VIVA LA LIBERTAD!

                Nuestras Redes:

Welcoming the BuloBús team in Llodio (Álava)… as they deserve, with messages of truth… @euskalnewsmedia thanks



Our social media accounts:

Aso_Liberum 2023-04-27 10:44:18

Recently, the organization has created a public group on Facebook to file a collective complaint against and, two of the main fact-checking organizations in Spain. In the group, which has 141 members (at the time of writing this report), there is an initial post asking all members to compile all articles from both media organizations that mention how safe the Covid-19 vaccines were.





We need your help to locate posts from and where they claimed that Covid-19 vaccines were safe, effective, and provided immunity. We are going to file a lawsuit against these two fact-checking agencies because… who fact-checks the fact-checkers? Therefore, we have decided that it is time to take legal action against these individuals. Please send us all the posts you find to our email.

[email protected]

We appreciate all your help and support in advance.




Noticias Rafapal (@rafapalreal) on Telegram, with 122,458 subscribers, has been one of the channels that also encouraged the campaign against the BuloBús. For example, on April 12, the channel posted a video on Telegram encouraging their followers to travel to the towns to confront the journalists with their lies:

“I was telling you a few days ago: We need to start taking action, and now we have the perfect opportunity. It turns out that Ana Pastor’s Newtral [the project is an initiative from Foundation] is touring Spain with a so-called BuloBús to raise awareness about misinformation, when the truth is that it has become clear that they are the ones who have lied. [The author goes over some dates from the BuloBús itinerary] You go with your phone that you can record on the street, and they are there to inform. Well, let there be a debate, that’s not illegal, you have the right to discuss matters of public interest. [The author reviews new unproven rumors] Come on, grab the camera, grab the mobile phone, go there, stand your ground, and don’t be afraid because they are people just like you and me, and ask them these questions while recording. Let’s see what expression they have. Come on, go get them.”

They claimed that had censored his information on social media. This last assertion refers to the fact that (along with other fact-checkers in Spain) is part of Meta’s Global Third-Party Fact-Checking Program. This cooperation between fact-checkers and the world’s largest social network is often used by conspiracy theorists to discredit the work of and other fact-checkers, as we will see later in the analysis of the disinformation narratives from these groups against Maldita.

Specifically in the case of Noticias Rafapal channel, Maldita’s journalists have debunked several of his posts, ranging from Covid-19 denialist to pro-Russian messages at the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Noticias Rafapal is a channel known to fact-checkers for being one of the most active in broadcasting or distributing hoaxes and conspiracy news from the so-called ‘Q’ movement, among others. The channel posted at least 5 messages encouraging the campaign against the BuloBús or giving publicity to actions that had already been carried out by other groups. 


Several other channels such as Resurgente 2020, La Quinta Columna, Consciencia Colectiva Oficial, El Loco de la Corrala, Alvise Perez, Euskalnews, or El Diestro TV have also collaborated in encouraging the harassment campaign against the BuloBús, as identified in the early stages of the smear campaign against their project. In fact, the foundation had already exposed some of these channels as part of “El clan del negacionismo en Telegram” (The Denialism Clan on Telegram). Some of them, like the Rafapal Noticias channel, also appeared in a similar investigation conducted by Newtral in 2021, another major fact-checking organization in Spain, regarding 50 channels disseminating false information and conspiracy-related hoaxes.

The narratives of the disinformation campaign

Once the timeline of the attack had been established and some of the main actors were identified through social network analysis, the investigation focused on analyzing the content of those messages to understand the narratives against that were formed in these groups of Telegram channels and X accounts (formerly Twitter), beyond the messages coordinating the sabotage in the towns. The study also aimed to gather what other narratives are being disseminated in these channels to understand the role of smear campaigns against and, broadly speaking, the media.

For this purpose, we used the AI-based software called Storyminer, developed in the Computational Engineering department of the Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, UCLA. The software can identify the different narratives that emerge around certain events or topics, creating a network of narratives. In the case of this investigation, and in coordination with, we obtained two datasets: one with 800,000 messages from the 11 Telegram channels that identified in the early stages of the campaign against the BuloBús. The messages were posted in those channels over a period from 2017 to May 30, 2023. The study period was extended to see the evolution of conspiracy theories.

However, to focus on the case of BuloBús, a sample of 15,811 messages disseminated across those channels between April 10 and May 30, 2023, was used, covering the day of the BuloBús project launch and 2 days after the local and regional elections in Spain (May 28, 2023). This segmentation is represented in Graph 6.

Graph 6.

Each of the clusters is constituted by a central vertex, the central theme discussed in the thousands of messages, and the nodes pivoting around are not users but the narratives themselves that Storyminer extracts from the messages and classifies as “in groups” for those narratives whose issuers view favorably, and “out group” for those narratives (marked with a red vertex) that users of those channels consider negative. For example, in Graph 7, you can see how the concept of Spain is on the vertex, and around it, all the narratives that were spread in those groups around the theme of Spain. The vast majority of them allude to the conspiracies that circulated before the local and regional elections on May 28, the period in which this case study is framed.

Graph 7.

The second dataset contains a total of 86,834 tweets from 34,106 users between April 10 and May 30, from which 1,256 themes were extracted and spread in this network during that period of time (Graph 8).

Graph 8.

In coordination with the data scientists from UCLA, a subnetwork was identified where ‘BuloBús’ was the main vertex around which various discourses pivoted (Graph 9).

Graph 9.

The disinformation narratives against

“The Ministry of Truth and its censors”

Graph 10.

This narrative (Graph 10) aims to discredit the work of, specifically the BuloBús project, and the fact-checking community in Spain in general. is part of Meta’s Global Third-Party Fact-Checking program, along with other major fact-checking organizations in Spain such as Newtral, EFE Verifica, and AFP España. Conspiracy groups use this collaboration with Meta to label them as censors, serving the interests of the tech company or other abstract global powers (see narrative “sources of income”). For example: The conspiracy groups identified in this case study use this collaboration with Meta to brand fact-checkers as censors serving the Ministry of Truth (clearly referencing George Orwell’s 1984).

In the specific case of the BuloBús initiative, some of the videos these groups recorded during their actions used the fact that the initiative was funded by Google as unequivocal evidence that the organization and initiative operated in favor of the tech company’s interests. As seen in this screenshot from the video they distributed on Twitter about the campaignin Roda on April 11.

It’s worth noting, in the case of the program with Meta, that the social network has reached an agreement with these independent organizations worldwide (all certified by the International Fact-Checking Network) to detect misinformation and hoaxes on Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp. Once fact-checkers have identified such practices, it is the company itself (Meta) that reduces their distribution and alerts users that the content has been identified as false. It’s important to highlight that fact-checkers do not remove any content at any point, as Meta emphasizes on the program’s dedicated webpage: “We remove content when it violates our Community Standards, which are separate from our fact-checking programs.”

“Factchecking the factcheckers”

Graph 11.

Another narrative to discredit the work of and other fact-checkers is to label them as liars. In fact, the two founders of, Julio Montes and Clara Jiménez Cruz, also appear in the narratives, being described as members of a sect and spreaders of hoaxes (Graph 11).

“(non-profit) by Julio Montes Moreno and Clara Jiménez Cruz, yes, those from the Sect, they will be out there with their Hoaxes.”

Concepts like ‘Timobus‘, ‘TrolaBus‘, parodying the name of the BuloBús initiative, or ‘Newtrola‘, a parody of the name of Newtral –another fact-checking organization in Spain– are commonly used to discredit the work of these organizations. The Royal Spanish Academy defines ‘trola’ as deception, falsehood, lie.

There are several attempts to discredit the work of fact-checkers in Spain, not just An example of this is the graphic shared on Fernando López Mirones’ Telegram channel, presenting an alleged structure of various media outlets, fact-checking organizations, and members of the socialist party in Spain.

These efforts to discredit the work of are joined by the creation of the parody account series on X (formerly Twitter). These accounts mimic the codes, emojis, and jargon of professional fact-checkers to expose alleged inconsistencies of fact-checkers, journalists, and members of the current government of Spain and their political parties. From these elements, we can infer that beyond the effort to discredit, there is also the underlying idea that all these actors – fact-checkers, journalists, and the coalition government of Spain, led by the Socialist Party – are part of a bloc and, therefore, are identified as a common enemy.

“They are at the service of global economic powers”

Another narrative used to discredit their work based on their sources of income. In the case of Maldita, there’s has been an attempt to map out the foundation’s alleged sources of income, and how these seem to be connected among themselves, implying that their work does not adhere to journalistic criteria or the standards established by the IFCN (International Fact-Checking Network), but rather to the interests of the organizations or institutions from which they receive funding.

‘Hispanidad’, a conservative media outlet, published an article on April 11 –24 hours after the launch of the BuloBús project– on the funding sources of, focusing on the funds that the organization receives from the Open Society Foundation, founded by the Hungarian philanthropist George Soros, implying that work allegedly serves the interests of Soros. George Soros is at the epicenter of these kinds of narratives all over Europe, where far-right and conspiracy groups position Soros at the pinnacle of a global elite trying to dilute all individual freedoms. It is worth noting that the funds that receives from the Open Society Foundation represent 3.65% of all its income, as of 2023.

Associated narratives against the media in general

“We are victims of the media mafia”

Graph 12.

As observed in the social network analysis (see ‘Actors’ section), Santiago Abascal, the leader of the far-right political party, wields significant influence with an eigenvector centrality of 76%, making him a prominent figure. It is important to note again that we have not seen any evidence of Santiago Abascal or the political party VOX collaborating or participating in the BuloBús campaign. However, this analysis of narratives indicates that the group of Telegram channels, as well as the X accounts covered in this case study, disseminate the tenets of the far-right in Spain, among other conspiracy theories (Graphs 12 and 13).

Graph 13.

Among the identified discourses where the Spanish Socialist Party is at the center of discussions are those alluding to VOX being excluded from political debates, or the alleged vote-buying by mail, where there were calls to postpone the elections until the system had been reviewed by independent experts. They also accused the media of being a mafia.


A broader analysis of discourses in the 18 months leading up to the municipal and regional elections on May 28, 2023, revealed that certain narratives were much more present during the electoral period than in the preceding months (Graph 14). Of all the themes analyzed in Telegram channels, discourses discussing the influence of a deep state, CIA interference, among other topics, were more prominent between April and May 2023. Among these themes, the BuloBús stands out.

Graph 14.

These trends show how the smear campaign against and other media outlets and journalists are part of a much larger disinformation ecosystem.

This case study is based on big data analysis to extract, on one hand, the connections between different actors and networks of narratives spread across various channels. Among these narratives, we’ve found not only direct discourses against and its BuloBús: Tour against disinformation but also against other media outlets and fact-checkers like Newtral, EFE Verifica, La Sexta, and Spain’s public television and radio (RTVE). A more in-depth analysis of the discrediting narratives associated with all these media outlets is required, but initial conclusions drawn from the BuloBús case data suggests a narrative that media outlets are pieces in a mechanism serving political and economic elites (see narratives related to funding sources) aiming to curtail individual freedoms.

Throughout the decade that the International Press Institute (IPI) has dedicated to studying and analyzing social media harassment against journalists and media outlets worldwide, it has observed that the most severe attacks are those coordinated with a specific agenda, whether it be to silence, intimidate, or discredit their work. With the rise of disinformation catalyzed by the coronavirus pandemic, these social media harassment campaigns are increasingly being instrumentalized to silence evidence-based journalism, creating a fertile ground where disinformation can grow with little opposition. This case study, along with others conducted by our partners Faktograf and TAZ, serves only as an initial glimpse into the dozens of similar cases that escape our attention but are keenly felt by those who endure them.

The project Decoding the disinformation playbook of populism in Europe is supported by the European Media and Information Fund, managed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.


The sole responsibility for any content supported by the European Media and Information Fund lies with the author(s) and it may not necessarily reflect the positions of the EMIF and the Fund Partners, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the European University Institute.