The spread of fake news on social media is believed to have played a role in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election
Eight social media platforms have signed individual agreements with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE), pledging to tackle the spread of disinformation ahead of the country’s presidential election in October.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, YouTube, Google and Kwai have signed agreements committing to work with election authorities to identify and eliminate fake news and the spread of conspiracy theories related to the election .
“This is an important moment in Brazilian life and in the life of our democracy,” TSE President Luis Roberto Barroso said during the signing ceremony. “We are all dedicated to preserving an environment of free debate, within the minimum limits of civility. We are here to push fake news, misinformation and conspiracy theories to the margins of history.
The TSE tried to schedule meetings with representatives of Telegram, the second most used instant messaging service in Brazil, to try to encourage them to join the other eight social networks but did not hear from them, according to AFP.
Row on Telegram
Telegram has become the main 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 moved to stop him spreading misinformation on their platforms.
Telegram – which launched 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.
It looks like TSE is considering suspending Telegram ahead of the election if it doesn’t agree to crack down on the spread of misleading information.
Bolsonaro reacted to the news last month. “It’s cowardice what (TSE) is trying to do. We take care of it,” he said.
Social media platforms are believed to have played a key role in the 2018 elections in which Bolsonaro was elected president. He will face leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the next election, who currently holds a large lead in the polls.