Colombia’s National Civil Registry Launches an Antidisinformation Initiative, 2018−2019


When a wave of online misinformation jeopardized the integrity of primary elections in Colombia, Juan Carlos Galindo, who headed the country’s National Civil Registry, decided it was time to address this emerging threat to democracy. The registry, which worked with the National Electoral Council, would soon conduct the first local elections since the country’s 2016 peace agreements, and Galindo wanted to ensure that voters had correct information about the process, including the locations and open hours of polling stations. He asked his team to find appropriate ways to respond to misinformation, mindful of low public trust, frequent strategic use of disinformation by political parties, and limited resources to target voters at the local level. Building on the experience of the registry’s Mexican counterpart, head of international partnerships Arianna Espinosa led the design and implementation of a plan to deal with the problem. The team struck deals with social media platforms, independent fact checkers, and political parties to take part in the fight against false information and used an artificial-intelligence-powered platform to detect and respond to false news about the election process during the campaign. By election day, the team had refuted a total of 21 misleading claims and published 59 verified news items and videos on social media, but the limited reach of the publications and minimal engagement with some of the key stakeholders prevented the registry from having the impact it aimed for. After the election, the new head of the registry refocused on building more-transparent processes and providing accessible information for citizens about elections while curtailing some of the initiatives Espinosa had introduced. This case is part of a series on combatting false information, including both misinformation (unintentional), disinformation (intentional), and fake news, one form of disinformation.

Alexis Bernigaud drafted this case study based on interviews conducted with officials, journalists, and civic leaders in Colombia and Spain from January through May 2023. Case published July 2023.

interagency coordination
Focus Area(s)
Critical Tasks
Consensus building
Election security
Inter-ministerial coordination
Core Challenge
Credibility (trust)
Trust and legitimacy
Country of Reform
Alexis Berniguad