Brazil prepares fight against fake news ahead of national elections

The fight against fake news will likely be a priority for several Brazilian governmental entities as the country faces national elections in the coming year. The National Congress, the Superior Electoral Court, Army and Federal Police have already stressed the importance of reducing fake news commonly disseminated on social networks in order to prevent negative influence on the contests for the president, governors, congressmen and senators.

On Nov. 8, the theme was highlighted by the new members of the Social Communication Council of the National Congress. "We have a global challenge before us. Each nation will have to find the best way to combat this phenomenon. This council will have a valuable contribution to offer," said Congress president, Senator Eunício Oliveira, according to Agência Câmara.

The council is an auxiliary body of the Legislative Branch that issues opinions on bills with the theme of freedom of expression, monopoly and oligopoly of the media and the programming of radio and TV stations.

By the end of October, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) had already expressed concern about the proliferation of false news. The body that manages the Brazilian electoral process is setting up a task force to combat fake news with the support of the Cyber Defense Center of the Army, the Federal Police and the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), according to Estado de S. Paulo.

According to Estado de S. Paulo, in a meeting with the TSE, Google and Facebook representatives committed themselves to enforcing judicial decisions against offensive content. The two technology giants also pledged to introduce a system that allows advertisements on the Internet to say who is responsible for buying the service and the amount paid.

By the end of November, the court will likely present a base text with proposals for action, coordinated by the vice president of the TSE, Minister Luiz Fux. The resolution should be closed by March — by then, the court will likely hold public hearings to discuss the matter.

In a press release sent to Gazeta Online, the TSE defined fake news as a "real threat." "The TSE believes that the issue is extremely important due to the impact it can have on the elections, as has already happened in other countries. Therefore, the Electoral Justice is getting ahead of it. The problem is the use of mechanisms (artificial intelligence and Big Data) to create unrealistic scenarios with direct influence on the electoral process," the statement said.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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