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The U.S. election has not ended on Brazilian social media

. Nov 12, 2020
us election misinformation Twitter labelled official Donald Trump's "STOP THE FRAUD" tweet as "disputed"

Throughout the tabulation process of this year’s U.S. elections, Facebook and Twitter were inundated with misinformation and disputed claims of voter fraud. While the most prominent culprit was incumbent President Donald Trump himself — demanding that polling stations “STOP THE COUNT!” before his lead in key states was whittled down and eventually overturned by victor and President-elect Joe Biden.

But what was particularly eye-opening was the quantity of Brazil-based accounts relaying this same misleading data in Portuguese.

The phenomenon was noticed by Christopher Bouzy, creator of Twitter platform <a href="https://botsentinel.com/">Bot Sentinel</a>, which tracks activity of inauthentic accounts and internet trolls.</p> <p>On his <a href="https://twitter.com/cbouzy/status/1326227616144220162">personal Twitter account</a>, Mr. Bouzy wrote that while it is not unique for foreign accounts to spread disinformation about American politics, &#8220;it&#8217;s unusual for a significant number of Brazilian Twitter accounts attempting to sow discord in a U.S. presidential election.&#8221;</p> <p>Indeed, many influential pro-Bolsonaro accounts were involved in the spreading of unconfirmed claims of voter fraud on social media, including one of the president&#8217;s politician sons, federal lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro.&nbsp;</p> <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/3vwehZlNqWhvnPA4ECOVbV" width="100%" height="232" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazil fact-checking the U.S. Election</h2> <p>A survey from fact-checking agency <a href="https://www.aosfatos.org/">Aos Fatos</a> showed that 33 percent of the 100 most popular U.S. election tweets posted by pro-Bolsonaro accounts last week <a href="https://www.aosfatos.org/noticias/um-terco-dos-tweets-mais-populares-bolsonaristas-sobre-eleicao-eua-tem-desinformacao/">contained misinformation</a>. Among the fake news spreaders were Eduardo Bolsonaro and his parliamentary colleague Carolina De Toni, as well as the government&#8217;s so-called &#8216;ideological guru&#8217; Olavo de Carvalho and far-right bloggers Allan dos Santos and Leandro Ruschel. The posts generated over 500,000 interactions, including likes and retweets.</p> <p>In fact, while being a Brazilian fact-checking agency analyzing Brazilian social media behavior, the front page of the Aos Fatos website is inundated with articles debunking misinformation concerning the U.S. election. According to the website, Aos Fatos published a total of <a href="https://www.aosfatos.org/search/?q=eleic%C3%B5es+eua">17 fact-checks</a> related to the American voting process in the last week alone</p> <h2>Bolsonaro&#8217;s next move</h2> <p>Taking its cues from Donald Trump&#8217;s camp, the U.S. election does not appear to be over for President Jair Bolsonaro and his followers. Four days since American media outlets declared the result of the vote in favor of challenger Joe Biden, Mr. Bolsonaro has yet to recognize the U.S. president-elect.</p> <p>The closest he has come to acknowledging his future counterpart in Washington was in a fiery speech on Tuesday evening, where he referred to Mr. Biden as &#8220;a major candidate for head of state,&#8221; before <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/11/11/in-one-day-bolsonaro-hits-out-at-both-china-and-biden/">issuing threats</a> to the president-elect over his past comments about Amazon deforestation.</p> <p>&#8220;We’ve just seen a major candidate for head of state say that if I don’t put down Amazon fires he’ll enact trade barriers against Brazil. How can we face all this? Just diplomacy won’t work […] when the saliva runs out, there has to be gunpowder. Otherwise, it won’t work.”</p> <p>However, with Donald Trump on the way out of the Oval Office, will there be any end in sight to the misinformation and social media-based politics he practices, along with his number one fan in Brasília?</p> <p>According to Filipe Mendonça, a researcher at National Institute for United States Studies, that is unlikely.&nbsp; “Despite Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat, Trumpism as a form of political communication, emerges as a winner and has consolidated itself as a force inside and outside the U.S.,&#8221; he tells <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>.</p> <p>&#8220;And we know how it works: it is direct, with no appreciation for the truth, surfing the algorithms and rousing messages of fear and manipulation.”</p> <p>And while Mr. Trump is close to ending his tenure in the White House, Jair Bolsonaro still has at least two years left in the presidency and it is unlikely he will change strategy now, especially with his more than 6.6 million followers on Twitter and 10.8 million on Facebook.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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