RIO DE JANEIRO — In 2018, Brazilian voters were bombarded with lies ahead of the presidential election, many of which supported then-candidate Jair Bolsonaro and helped put him in office.
This year, misinformation has persisted, but it’s less widespread, experts say. It’s part of tech companies’ efforts to more aggressively crack down on intentionally misleading posts. Aggressive actions by the Supreme Court of Brazil And election officials should compel companies to remove content.
A Supreme Court judge, Alexandre de Moraes, ordered major social networks Thousands of posts to be removed, said they were spreading “fake news” or that those who posted them had threatened the court. Few major democracies weigh in directly and often on what, if anything, can be said online. It sparked a debate in Brazilian society How far does the government go to curb misinformation?
So far, mixed results, experts say. “It’s necessary, it’s positive, but not enough,” said Marco Aurelio Rüdiger, director of the communications school of the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, “because the amount of fake news is so great.”
For one, algorithms aimed at screening out false information are flawed. Even if such content is removed from one site, it often finds a captive audience on another, less harsh one. Disinformation has become more sophisticated, often supporting twisted or misleading facts that are difficult to debunk.
“These are not outright lies,” said Tai Nalon, head of the disinformation research group Aos Fatos in Brazil. “But they twist a fact or beg a question or leave context.”
Disinformation spread directly among people who may know each other in Brazil gives it less reach, but it carries more weight with recipients. “It’s not a lie to be sent to everyone,” says Ms. Nalana. “We’re seeing misinformation spread in key groups, church groups.”
Brazil’s left-wing Mr. The most disturbing misinformation this year was the posts suggesting plans to rig the election against Bolsonaro. The president himself proposed the theory, sparking a debate across the Brazilian internet.
“Stop Stealing” videos repeating the president’s false fraud claims have drawn millions of views on YouTube and Facebook, according to SumOfUs, an advocacy group that aims to hold corporations accountable. The group released a statement last week saying Facebook and Instagram parent Google and Meta allowed thousands of ads, videos and posts that cast doubt on Brazil’s election process to run on their sites.
Social media analytics firm Cypra analyzed posts from 4,440 accounts that discussed Brazil’s voting systems on Twitter, TikTok or Facebook in recent weeks and found that 6 percent of the posts came from untrusted accounts, reaching 1.3 million people.
Some posts by Mr. Bolsonaro’s main rival, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has also attacked the former leftist president. Some reports falsely claim that he plans to close churches and turn the country into a repressive communist state.
Mr. While there is misleading material online in support of da Silva, Ms. Nalana says the left rarely sees outright lies or baseless conspiracies. Instead, left-leaning posts by Mr. They focus on playing up Bolsonaro’s poor record, including his handling of the pandemic.
Mr. “There are a lot of bad words” from Bolsonaro, Ms Nalana says. “But this is the tone of the campaign.”
Mr. Mr. Bolsonaro has held a double-digit lead for months. Da Silva has dismissed opinion polls showing him trailing. Echoing the president was a recent viral clip from Brazil’s biggest nightly newscast To show Dr The host presented a fake poll and said Mr. Put Bolsonaro far ahead.
However, many Brazilians have learned valuable lessons during the pandemic, which has seen a constant barrage of misinformation about the coronavirus and the vaccine, much of which Mr. Instigated by Bolsonaro.
“People are more critical now, they’re more cautious,” Mr. Rudiger says. “They don’t fall for every lie.”
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