This week, the Explaining Brazil podcast will tackle fake news. While this phenomenon is by no means a problem exclusive to Brazil, our elections could be affected more than others: Brazil has 122 million Facebook users, making it the social media giant’s third-largest market.
Skewed facts are probably a well-established part of the agenda in any election campaign. But there’s no denying that social media has accelerated misinformation’s speed and extended its reach. None of this is helping Brazil as it faces elections in October this year. The country is due to elect a new president and a new Congress. With no clear favorite at present, the rapid online spread of falsehoods is only adding to pre-existing polarization. This is where social media’s algorithmic factors in. Showing users what they want to see and prioritizing content based on how much interaction it receives means that fake news is adding to the gap between Brazil’s right- and left-wing voters, rather than bridging it.
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Gustavo Ribeiro has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart and Radio France Internationale. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Abril Prize for outstanding political journalism. He also holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris. Ciara Long is a journalist based in Rio de Janeiro and a contributing writer for The Brazilian Report. Her work has been featured in PRI, The Guardian, CBC News and World Politics Review among others. Tai Nalon is the CEO and founder of Aos Fatos, a Brazilian fact-checking agency and a partner institution of The Brazilian Report. She has worked in some of Brazil’s biggest media outlets, such as Folha de S.Paulo and Veja.