An alleged journalist named Joana Masdeu was one of the protagonists of the week in Catalan politics with "her" controversial account on Twitter. A protagonist, in particular, because in the end there is no Joana Masdeu: the account is fake and, according to information appearing in the media, it is linked to a Laura Borràs collaborator, Rai López, who has been working for Junts per Catalunya since August. The incident has given another moment of visibility to a common phenomenon these days in politics all over the world: fake social media accounts. Among political parties in Catalonia, the Catalan branch of the People's Party (PPC), the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) are the three groups with the most fake followers on Twitter, as radio programme El món on RAC1 reported and by ElNacional.cat confirmed this Friday, using the TwitterAudit tool, which can provide an analysis of all Twitter information: creation date, followers, interactions, real and fake followers.
With the data in hand, the Catalan PP is indeed in first place with 12.2% of its followers consisting of fake profiles. The PSC has 10.0% and ERC have 9.7%. Close in percentage terms are Junts, with 7.5%, followed by the CUP with 7.4%, En Comú Podemos with 5.6%, and finally Cs with 3.8% and Vox, with 1.6%.
36,155 ERC followers are fake accounts
If a glance is taken at the absolute numbers, the ranking of political parties changes, and ERC is positioned as having the most fake accounts by far among its followers. The currently-governing party in Catalonia has a total of 36,155 fake accounts among its followers, followed by the CUP with 22,292, the PSC with 12,132, Junts with 9,037, the PPC with 8,642, the Comuns with 2,933, Cs with 1,010, and the last by a very long distance, Vox with 139.
The Joana Masdeu case
The Twitter account of Joana Masdeu came to attention this week as the alleged journalist defended the Catalan MP for the Junts party, Francesc de Dalmases, over his controversial reprimand to a FAQS programme journalist, and attacked the former general secretary of Junts, Jordi Sànchez. The Masdeu controversy exploded this Wednesday, when various media linked this account to the phone of Junts national councilor Rai López, who is within the circles of the president of the party, Laura Borràs. According to RAC1, it was created on October 23rd, the day the report commissioned by the lawyer Magda Oranich was published, a document which concludes that Dalmases had an "incorrect" attitude and that the FAQS journalist "felt intimidated." A report that was the trigger for the resignation of the until now vice-president of Junts, who nevertheless remains as an MP in the Catalan Parliament.
The Twitter account no longer exists, with Joana Masdeu's last known words in cyberspace being an exchange on Wednesday with the former general secretary of Junts, Jordi Sànchez. The supposed journalist said in a tweet that the leader of Junts in Parliament, Albert Batet, had "coerced" deputies into his office by making them swear "absolute loyalty" and also accused Sànchez of "threatening" fellow party members.