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News > Latin America

Brazil: WhatsApp 'Fake News' Against Lula Debunked

  • Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

    Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 August 2018
Opinion

Brazil is home to more than 120 million Whatsapp users.

An image distributed on Whatsapp has been debunked as fake news in the lead up to the Brazilian elections in October. The picture shows a man dressed in fancy clothes beside a private jet with a caption that reads: "The plane of Lula's son," in reference to Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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While Facebook, the owner of Whatsapp, has taken action to eliminate accounts from its platform that distribute fake news, Whatsapp has not shown a similar interest in monitoring its platform, according to Associated Press.

"It's a fight in which we don't see the magnitude and the force of the enemy, as well as there location," said Daniel Bramatti, president of the Brazilain Association of Investigative Journalism.

Brazil is home to more than 120 million Whatsapp users, the equivalent of one in every ten users in the world. It's more or less the same amount of internet users in the country of over 200 million people.

More so, fake news and rumors spread on Whatsapp are more apt to gain credibility than other sources because the content it is shared in private messages.

Bramatti emphasized that if people lived in a society where people were more "pensive, a culture of caution... one that investigates before sharing and verifies sources, I believe that we would observe a difference."

Earlier this year MIT conducted a survey, which revealed that fake news has 70 percent more chance to be shared on social media sites than well-documented material. Reuters also reported that Brazil is the third country with the largest number of fake news stories published.

Fake news against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has increased the lead up to the Brazilian elections in October.

Despite all the fake news, his conviction and imprisonment for corruption, events that many legal experts and observers attribute to lawfare and a salacious mainstream media campaign, Lula has topped every 2018 electoral poll conducted by Vox Populi, Ibope, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos.

His two terms in office were marked by a slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the United Nations World Hunger Map. He left office with a record approval rating of 83 percent in 2011, according to Datafolha.

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