Social media platforms pledge to combat fake news ahead of Brazil election

By on 23/02/2022 | Updated on 23/02/2022
The spread of fake news on social media is thought to have played a role in Brazil's 2018 presidential election

Eight social media platforms have signed individual agreements with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) pledging to fight the spread of disinformation ahead of the country’s presidential election in October.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, YouTube, Google and Kwai have signed deals in which they commit to work with electoral authorities to identify and weed out fake news and the spread of conspiracy theories related to the election.  

“This is an important moment in Brazilian life and the life of our democracy,” said TSE president Luis Roberto Barroso at the signing ceremony. “We are all devoted to preserving an environment of free debate, within the minimal limits of civility. We are here to push fake news, disinformation and conspiracy theories to the margins of history.”

The TSE has been trying to schedule meetings with representatives of Telegram, the second most-used instant messaging service in Brazil, in an attempt to encourage them to join the eight other social networks but has not heard back from them, according to AFP.

Row over Telegram

Telegram has become the primary channel for president Jair Bolsonaro – who has been accused of using fake news as a political weapon – to communicate with his supporters, after Twitter, Facebook and YouTube acted to stop him from spreading disinformation on their platforms.

Telegram – which was started in Russia but is now based in Dubai – has a much higher group size limit than WhatsApp, at 200,000, and does not prevent bulk messaging.

TSE is understood to be considering whether to suspend Telegram in the run-up to the election if it does not agree to tackle the spread of misleading information.

Bolsonaro reacted to the news last month. “It’s cowardice what (TSE) are trying to do. We are dealing with it,” he said.

Social media platforms are thought to have played a key role in the 2018 election in which Bolsonaro was voted president. He is up against leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the upcoming election, who currently has a large lead in the polls.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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