Piaui is a peripheral state in Brazil, with just over 3 million residents. Economically speaking, it is far from a juggernaut. Of the country’s 27 states, Piaui ranks 21st in state GDP. Still, Piaui made headlines between Sunday night and Monday morning – and not for the right reasons. The state could be behind the first illegal online campaigning scandal of this year’s election.
A left-wing activist said on Twitter that she – as well as other “digital influencers” – were paid to publish content favorable to the Workers’ Party and many of its candidates. She decided to go public after being asked to post compliments to Wellington Dias, the governor of Piaui. After the news broke, several other influencers that had been recruited admitted to receiving money to take part in the strategy.
Brazil’s electoral rules allow candidates to sponsor their own content in order to increase their reach – but they veto the use of robots or paid supporters in order to boost a hashtag or improve (or attack) the online reputation of a candidate.