Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fake News and the Brazilian Election

Folha de S. Paulo has an article about a study done on fake news and the Brazilian election. They don't mention it, but my colleague Fred Batista here in Political Science is one of the people working on that study.

A primeira parte da pesquisa, feita em maio, com notícias falsas sobre o PT mostrou que, entre aqueles que acreditam nas informações inverídicas, a correção, mesmo vinda de veículo profissional de imprensa, teve pouco impacto.
The really troubling thing here is that fact checking and correcting don't matter. People will continue to believe false--even outrageously false--news stories, I imagine they are simultaneously convincing themselves that they know how to spot fake news when they see it.

In Brazil this is centered in large part on WhatsApp:

Many of the fakes portray Haddad as a communist whose Workers Party would turn Brazil into another Cuba, convert children to homosexuality and plans to rig voting machines.
Again, it's not just fake, it's crazy fake. And people eat it up. It is helping Jair Bolsonaro, just as fake news in the U.S. helps Donald Trump. This doesn't mean that Bolsonaro is only winning because of it, as there are plenty of reasons Brazilians might vote for him. But it undermines the election process and erodes public discourse. Further, the lies don't stop with the election when you have an unhinged president so the campaign simply sets the stage for more waves of falsehoods later.

There is almost no way for Bolsonaro to lose, and so both in the United States and in Brazil you have a large swath of the public believing crazy things while the president says things even crazier. We need to correct it, if only for our own sanity, but people persist in ignorance.


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