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Telegram rolls out group monitoring in Brazil ahead of elections

The new feature is meant to tackle disinformation and could be extended to countries facing threats to democracy.
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Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Editor on

Telegram has announced a number of measures aiming to tackle the spread of disinformation through its platform in Brazil. These features are part of an agreement between the platform and the country's authorities ahead of the elections in October.

During a meeting with the president of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) on June 6, Telegram's Vice President Ilya Perekopsky announced the initiatives. According to the executive, Brazil is the first country in the world where Telegram is introducing the features, which could be expanded to other countries facing threats to democracy through the dissemination of false content.

The initiatives announced by Perekopsky include monitoring the content in groups. According to the executive, posts identified as lacking context or as containing false information will be flagged as a potential source of disinformation. The content is then forwarded to Telegram's fact-checking channels for analysis and subsequent publication of verified information.

Telegram users themselves will be able to flag and report potentially false content. 

During the meeting with TSE Minister Edson Fachin, Perekopsky also mentioned the TSE channel on the platform as one of the firm's key success stories. Launched as part of the company's commitments to tackle the spread of fake news in Brazil, the verified channel has attracted more than 184,000 members in less than a month.

Commenting about the court's concerns about the spread of false information related to the elections, Minister Fachin noted Brazil is "facing circumstances that could put Brazil's democracy at risk." During the meeting, the information technology secretary at the TSE, Julio Valente, put forward a list of requests the court believes will  disinformation.

Among the requests, the Brazilian electoral Court wanted to know if they could obtain data on the origins of malicious content posted on the platform. According to the TSE, this would enable the authorities to track false content and identify the user responsible for publishing it in the first place.

Joined by Telegram's representative in Brazil, Alan Campos, Perekopsky noted the platform was unable to cater to some of the TSE requests due to the company's operational setup. But Perekopsky added that these requests could be studied for future implementation.

On June 7, Perekopsky met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, an avid user of the platform. According to the firm's VP, the main subject of the meeting was "freedom of expression."

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