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Disinformation a major factor in the election debate in Brazil

#Disinformation #major #factor #election #debate #Brazil

Three months before the Brazilian presidential election, disinformation about the two main candidates, President Jair Bolsonaro and ex-leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is having a major impact.

The sheer volume of fake news, the creation of new social media platforms, and increasingly complex content have made information even more difficult to verify.

The amount of content data reviewed by AFP more than quadrupled between January and June.

Those who produce false election news first dealt with a completely different topic: the corona virus.

“The election content has taken over the space” previously dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Sergio Ludtke, the coordinator of the Comprova information verification collective, made up of 42 media outlets including AFP.

“The pandemic was probably a testing phase for these groups” that produced fake news, he added, saying it subsequently “became a political event.”

And as October’s election approaches, verification is becoming “much more complicated” than it was four years ago.

Covid disinformation took “a new form that permeated politics, business and academia,” said Joyce Souza, a specialist in digital communications at the University of Sao Paulo.

From posts raising doubts about the safety of vaccines, the main form of viral disinformation now revolves around distrust of the voting system, whether in opinion polls or electronic voting.

Electronic voting was originally rolled out across the country in the 2000 election to combat fraud, but Bolsonaro is not a fan and has expressed doubts about the method, calling for paper votes and a public count.

– ‘Create Doubt’ –

During the last elections in 2018, there was a lot of false and misleading information, especially on WhatsApp. But they were easier to identify.

“What we are seeing now is content that is not necessarily wrong per se, but leads to misleading interpretations,” said Ludtke.

That’s exactly what happened in May in a tweet challenging an opinion poll to poll “only” 1,000 people.

That number was true, but the suggestion that it was insufficient was inaccurate.

Experts told AFP it was sufficient to extrapolate as long as the sample group accurately represented the diversity of the population.

“One of the strategies of the complex disinformation scenario is to create doubts in the social media user and mix things up so much that (the user) doesn’t know who to trust,” Pollyana Ferrari, a communications specialist, told the Facts coordinates examination at the Catholic University PUC.

Such strategies also play on emotions, Souza said, further distorting the facts and facilitating quick transmission.

Since the 2018 election, social media platforms like Telegram, TikTok, and Kwai, which allow for the rapid publishing and manipulation of visual content, have grown in popularity.

– “Vector of disinformation” –

The latest polls over the past week had Lula topping 47 percent of voter intentions for the October 2 election, compared to Bolsonaro’s 28 percent.

However, some content targets these polls to reduce public trust in pollsters.

A video apparently shows Brazilian soccer fans shouting “Lula, thief!” in a packed stadium has recently been doing the rounds and has been viewed more than 100,000 times on just one platform, alongside the question, “Is that the poll leader?”

But the audio was changed on TikTok with a tool.

For Ferrari, TikTok symbolizes the face of disinformation – one that’s more dynamic and even humorous.

“Like a virus, the fake contaminates hearing, distorts vision, settles in the mind and hides behind the humor of the meme,” she said.

By being “harmless,” it becomes a vector of disinformation.

The Supreme Electoral Court said in a recent document that “incorrect or out of context information affects value judgments and leads people to make decisions based on false biases.”

Souza believes that this content “destroys rational debate in society and incites hatred over public debate”.

The problem is that sophisticated disinformation endures, Ludtke said, and “probably remains in some areas of society.”


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#Disinformation #major #factor #election #debate #Brazil

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