Social networks to combat fake news in Brazilian elections

Brasilia, Feb 15 (EFE).- Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) on Tuesday signed an agreement with eight social networks to combat the diffusion of “fake news” with an eye toward the October general elections.

The accord was signed by representatives of Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp, Google, Instagram, YouTube and Kwai, who will join the TSE in identifying and blocking lies and fake news that could subvert and confuse the election process, according to Judge Luis Robert Barroso, the head of the TSE.

“The online platforms and the messaging apps today are a big public space through which pass a good number of ideas and opinions” which in the past were concentrated in the “professional press,” the magistrate, who is also a member of the Supreme Court, said.

Barroso emphasized the “relevance” that the cooperative venture with the firms will have on the election process, given – he said – that they have committed themselves to “moving forward with tools” that allow the identification and elimination from the platforms of potential “conspiracy theories and attacks on Brazilian democracy.”

The concern of the election authorities with the content circulating on the social networks has been growing since the 2018 elections, which brought ultrarightist Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency.

Bolsonaro will be running for re-election in October.

In the 2018 vote, authorities identified assorted irregularities that are still under investigation and which focused above all on “mass” releases of fake news via the WhatsApp messaging service, which has some 120 million users in Brazil and has promised to cooperate in identifying this type of activity.

Since 2018, the spread of lies and threats has proliferated on the social networks and the Brazilian judiciary has opened a number of investigations into them, including into the activities of certain well-known “Bolsonaristas” and even the president himself.

In one of those proceedings, Bolsonaro is accused of releasing fake information about the electronic voting system that the country adopted in 1996 and which, since then, has not been the subject of a single verifiable fraud complaint.

However, Bolsonaro claims – without any proof – that the electronic voting system fosters election tampering and he has even said that, in the October elections, some members of the TSE are preparing to mount a “fraud” campaign to favor former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is running for election again and leading in the opinion polls.

EFE ed/wgm/dmt/bp

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