Social networks partner with Brazil's electoral justice to tackle fake news during elections

Most of the major platforms have committed to identifying and removing false information that may be detrimental to the democratic process.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Eight of the largest social media platforms active in Brazil have signed agreements with Brazil's Superior Electoral Court (TSE) to fend off disinformation and the spread of fake news that may be detrimental to the upcoming elections in October.

Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Instagram, YouTube and Kwai have all signed individual agreements with each platform, which outline the measures each platform will adopt to stop the spread of false and misleading information. The partnership did not involve financial resources and is part of TSE's activities around combating disinformation.

"We are concerned and committed to preserving a free, broad and robust environment for debate, but preserving certain minimum rules of legality and civility. Therefore, we are committed to fighting hate, widespread online crime and conspiracy theories of attacks on democracies," said TSE president Luis Roberto Barroso.

However, some companies still have to commit to tackling fake news in their platforms in Brazil. For example, LinkedIn is still negotiating terms with TSE, which is the highest body of the country's electoral justice. Telegram, which is the platform president Jair Bolsonaro prefers to use to communicate with his supporters, remains unreachable despite the TSE's contact attempts.

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As for individual agreements, commitments made by Google and YouTube include adopting measures so that its users can have access to information from reliable sources of information about the electoral process. These include developing a course in partnership with TSE about electoral disinformation and the functioning of the platform, as well as a trends hub in Portuguese with data and information related to search trends coming up on its search engine. Google will also set up a reporting channel for suspicious content as well as information on the progress of investigations and will also publish a transparency report on political ads for Brazil.

Facebook and Instagram will introduce a number of measures around the dissemination of reliable and quality information about the electoral process, including the use of specific labels that will direct users to official information. A chatbot in the Instagram interface to facilitate voter access to official and relevant content regarding the elections will also be created.

The companies also pledged to implement media literacy and training initiatives to fight disinformation and introduce actions to rapid identification and containment of cases and practices of disinformation, such as a non-binding extrajudicial communications channel for reporting content with misleading information the elections.

WhatsApp, another Meta company that was at the center of a scandal involving Bolsonaro in the elections of 2018, has committed to a handful of initiatives such as improving a chatbot developed for the 2020 elections, as well as holding seminars for TSE staff about the functioning of the app.

Commitments made by Twitter include activating search prompts to help users find relevant information about the election, particularly about the functioning of the electronic voting machines and the electoral process, with information aimed at clarifying serious disinformation narratives that might be trending on the platform. In addition, the company will highlight tweets from the TSE and fact-check agencies around subjects that are relevant to the electoral process and support the Court in amplifying the reach of its content.

Pledges made by TikTok include, for example, the creation of a page consolidating trustworthy content around the electoral process, as well as the creation of a complaints channel focused on the spread of disinformation. The company also committed to "making an effort" to inform the TSE about the progress of the investigation of such complaints. It also pledged to remove malicious content and support fact-checking institutions.

As for Kwai, the company will also create a page with reliable content against disinformation, as well as information about the functioning and auditing of the electronic voting system and other citizen information such as voter registration. The social network will also support TSE online events and hold seminars about the platform to TSE staff as well as political parties, research institutes and fact-checking organizations, among other bodies involved with activities around tackling disinformation online.

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