Recently Julie Girling a British MEP was insulted and harassed via social media sites by Spanish trolls for standing up for the people of Gibraltar. In a world where the lines between reality and cyber reality blur and are hard to distinguish at times, such threats should not be taken lightly. The internet is a powerful tool people are able to distribute information whether factual or not with the simple click of a mouse. Intelligence agencies across the world are aware of this and use the technology appropriately. Elements of these aforementioned agencies are easily able to masquerade as “normal” users whilst successfully spewing their propaganda of choice across the globe whilst not suffering any repercussions as such.
The increasing tensions between Spain and the UK have set off the Spanish Anti-Gibraltar propaganda machine on permanent over drive. An avalanche of misinformation in regards to Gibraltar has been circulating all over the web as of late. For example Spain claims that Gibraltar is a tax haven and a fiscal paradise yet it is white listed by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Something it would not be if this were a fact. Such lies are spread continuously and via all means possible including major social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. It very much seems like Spain’s propaganda machinery has opted to employ Nazi Germany’s ideology of “if you tell a lie big enough and often enough, people will eventually come to believe it”.
I think it is worth noting that the Centro Nacional De Inteligencia (National Centre of Intelligence), once a military dominated agency known as CESID (Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa) now directly reports to the Vice president of the Spanish state. Additionally one of José María Aznar's (Prime minister of Spain 1996-2004) key objectives was to gain access to US technologies for espionage. He wove this objective into the negotiations for the review of the 1988 bi-lateral defence agreement with the US. Many believe that this objective was indeed achieved and once this technology was understood it would have probably been used for collection purposes rather than counter-terrorism.
In my opinion the very existence of the Gibraltarian entity angers Spain’s right wing ruling party and if they could they would obliterate them from the face of the earth. Its main objective is to attack the pillars of Gibraltar’s economy and thus force a political capitulation. It is purposely and aggressively targeting Gibraltar and it may even be getting assistance from the most unlikely of sources.
Graham Watson a liberal democrat MEP has always staunchly defended Gibraltar. Unfortunately his colleague Andrew Duff has been far from supportive. He has launched his very own cyber-assault on Gibraltar’s reputation via his twitter page and called us a fiscal paradise (a la Spain) amongst other things. It is hard to understand how two MEPS’ from the same party can have such opposing views on the same subject. Duff might perceive Gibraltar as a stumbling block in his crusade to create the United State of Europe. Duff loves the “we are one” EU notion and vehemently fights for such a cause. That he is quite paly with Raül Romeva i Rueda (a Spanish Green MEP) does not bode well for Gibraltar either.
There are many factors that need to be taken into account and even those who spread blatant lies behind the cloak of anonymity should not be underestimated. Such is the case of Emilio Esteban a self-proclaimed “friend of Gibraltar” whose website friendsofbritishgibraltar.weebly.com was responsible for posting the faces of Guardia Civil guards on the internet. These actions predictably portrayed Gibraltar in a negative light and were even given air time by the Spanish TV channel Tele Cinco. Emilio uses both Twitter and Facebook to attack the inhabitants of the rock whilst falsely claiming he supports a British Gibraltar, when in reality all he does is instigate hate and deceive. He even goes as far as infiltrating social media groups in an attempt to coerce Gibraltarians into providing him with information and photographs. Recently he lambasted the Gibraltar Government for being ‘Anti British’ and claimed that Spanish flags were being flown around the rock. This could not be further from the truth as the people of Gibraltar are proud to be British and in 2002 over 98% of the population voted in favour of remaining British.
People must be educated to understand that not all that they read on the internet is true and that the detrimental effects of cyber intelligence and war fare should be acknowledged and respected. Especially when those using it to their advantage are fully aware of what can be achieved by such means.