Brazil battles fake news 'tsunami' amid polarized presidential election
Brazil Brazil battles fake news 'tsunami' amid polarized presidential election
The countryâs electoral court ordered Facebook to remove links to 33 fake news stories targeting a vice-presidential candidate
As Brazil nears the climax of its most bitter and polarized election in recent history, academics and digital activists fighting to stem a rising tide of fake news say that accurate coverage of the campaign risks being drowned out by the sheer volume of lies being spread on Facebook and WhatsApp.
On Monday, Brazilâs electoral court ordered Facebook to remove links to 33 fake news stories targeting Manuela DâÃvila, a communist party politician and the vice-presidential candidate for Fernando Haddad of the Workersâ Party (PT).'Gender ideology': big, bogus and coming to a fear campaign near you Read more
DâÃvila party hailed the decision as a victory, but one digital media expert said it was a mere drop in the ocean.
âThis is nothing. Itâs irrelevant amid the lies and attacks in this election,â said Pablo Ortellado, a professor of public policy at the University of SÃ£o Paulo who le ads a project monitoring public debate on social media. âThere is very little correct information.â
Haddad â" who replaced his partyâs jailed founder Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva as its presidential candidate â" scored 29% of the vote in the electionâs first round on Sunday, trailing the rightwing candidate Jair Bolsonaro who took 46% of the vote. The two men face a runoff vote on 28 October.
In the electoral courtâs ruling, Judge SÃ©rgio Banhos gave Facebook 24 hours to provide the IP addresses of computers used to register the accounts that posted the fake news stories â" and the personal details of the page administrators. Facebook said it would obey the ruling, and the links have already been removed.
According to court documents, the pages included video edited to include images from a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, images of two naked people kicking crucifixes, DâÃvila talking about an anti-homophobia campaign, and âimages that hypersexua lised childrenâ.
The film asked the viewer: âShe wants to be vice-president for Lulaâs Workersâ party. What do you think?â court documents said.The Brazilian group scanning WhatsApp for disinformation in run-up to elections Read more
Bolsonaroâs campaign has attacked Haddad and the PT over a programme of educational material aiming at fighting homophobia in schools produced while he was minister of education under President Dilma Rousseff in 2011 but never distributed.
Fake news items have deluged Brazilâs garrulous social media networks with material suggesting that he and DâÃvila want to âsexualiseâ children.
âIt is one of the main topics of the Bolsonaro campaign,â said Ortellado.
Meanwhile, some on the left have lied about Bolsonaroâs proposals to abolish taxes for Brazilians who earn less than five times the minimum salary â" around Â£977 a month â" instead alleging that he intends to increase taxat ion on the poorest, Ortellado said. Others have spread fake stories claiming that a knife attack that left Bolsonaro seriously injured was faked to boost his polling.
In the past ten weeks, Comprova â" a monitoring project set up by 24 media organisations â" has investigated 110 alleged fake news stories on WhatsApp and Facebook, said executive editor Sergio LÃ¼dtke.
âWe know that we cannot stop the tsunami,â he said, adding that more and more fake news is spreads on the WhatsApp network, which is impossible to control â" or even monitor â" as most groups are private.
âWe only see some of this and we know thatâs not representative, itâs just an indication. Itâs very difficult,â he said.Topics
- Jair Bolsonaro
- Social media
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