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News > Latin America

Bolsonaro-Linked Companies Fraudulently Pay Fake News War On PT

  • Companies linked to far-right Jair Bolsonaro are financing a smear campaign against the Workers Party (PT).

    Companies linked to far-right Jair Bolsonaro are financing a smear campaign against the Workers Party (PT). | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 October 2018

One week before the second turn of Presidential elections in Brazil, local media has denounced a social media smear campaign against the PT and Fernando Haddad.

Brazil has experienced a fake news war during the campaign for the presidential elections in October, a report from the newspaper A Folha de Sao Paulo revealed on Thursday. 

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The smear campaign cost 12 million Reais (around U$D 3,2 Million) and was carried out and financed by companies related to, or openly supporting far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro. The case is commonly known as "Bolsonaro Caixa 2" case.

Different companies supporting the candidacy of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) led by Jair Bolsonaro purchased a WhatsApp service called "Disparo Masivo" (Massive Shot), in order to send multiple messages aiming to slander the Workers Party (PT) and its candidates Fernando Haddad and Manuela D'Avila.

"More than the result of the elections, what is at stake is the survival of the democratic process," wrote the PT on a statement on the matter.

Brazil's electoral justice bans the usage of these services as it represents undeclared financing. The legal team of the "O povo feliz de novo" (people happy again), in which the PT is apart of, filed on Thursday the request for an investigation in the Electoral Supreme Court (TSE). As well, lawmakers have asked the Military Police (PM) to research into the smear campaigns.

By buying the Massive Shot services, the companies incurred three different electoral crimes: "donation by a legal entity, use of false profiles for electoral propaganda, and irregular purchase of user registrations," according to the PT LULA website.

The Brazilian electoral law specifies that "voting is also void when it is vitiated by falsehood, fraud, coercion," or when there is an abuse of political or economic power.

"The local press revealed companies linked to Bolsonaro that illegally fund the spread of lies against the PT. Only four of the 50 most shared Whatsapp images are true. 6/10 voters of Bolsonaro are informed there. He refuses to debate on TV. Democracy?"
"It is a coordinated action to influence the electoral process, which can not be ignored by the Electoral Court or go unpunished. The PT requested on Wednesday (17), to the Federal Police, an investigation into the criminal practices of Deputy Jair Bolsonaro," read a statement by the Brazilian party.
The lawsuit presented by the PT asks for the search and seizure of documents at Havan's headquarters and at the house of its owner Luciano Hang, in addition to requesting all of its accounting records. As well as lifting the banking, financial and telematic secrecy of Hang and of the companies involved. The lawsuit also asks that the justice inquires Whatsapp and to demand it presents a contingency plan.

Brazil: Court Orders Facebook Remove 'Fake News' Video, Accounts Targeting PT

According to the research by A Folha de Sao Paulo, there are at least four companies linked: Havan, Quick Mobile Desenvolvimento e Serviços, Yacows Desenvolvimento de Software, Croc Service Soluções de Informática and SMSMarket Soluções Inteligentes.

"The criminal methods of lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro are intolerable in a democracy. Brazilian institutions have an obligation to act in defense of the smoothness of the electoral process. Social networks can not passively watch its use to spread lies and offenses, becoming accomplices of the manipulation of millions of users," stated the PT.

Furthermore, it was announced late Thursday that the Whatsapp fraud utilized by the Bolsonaro campaign influenced the outcome of the election. Datafolha director Mauro Paulino confirmed on his Twitter account that, "Electoral Research changed the outcome of the final results; when comparing the data images from Whatsapp the night before the first round of the election, the phenomenon is clearly shown." 

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