Political campaigns for Brazil’s presidential election have used "deliberate misinformation" as a tactic, said Edison Lanza of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
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"The information we have is that in Brazil there was a lot of deliberate disinformation circulated, some with distorted journalistic formats and others with more difficult formats to classify as 'memes', news in simplistic formats and so on," Lanza told EFE.
Lanza, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, presented his statements at the international conference "Disinformation in the digital era and its impact on freedom of expression and electoral processes in the region," which took place in Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
"In Brazil the phenomenon has existed with great force, some of that information is news that the press has discovered unmasked or the campaign teams and in others the platforms themselves have indicated that they have begun to take measures, what we do know is that they have been part of the campaign," he said.
The fake news phenomenon isn’t recent. Fabricated news stories have existed for about as long as media and newspapers have existed, such as yellow journalism, a U.S. terms for media which uses shocking headlines and few facts.
“The most recent definition of “fake news” is one that’s been hijacked and repurposed by politicians, most notably President Donald Trump, to dismiss good-faith reporting that they disagree with,” said Jaqueline Mancy of the Smithsonian.
For Lanza, these strategies were notoriety implemented in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Brexit, Colombia's peace campaign, and in the last presidential elections in Mexico.
Latin America is going through a "very complicated moment" in terms of freedom of expression in some countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, Lanza said.
"When a decision may be influenced by a flow of false information about a candidate or party, above all, with the technological tools that allow for viralization and a kind of targeting of some populations, is a dangerous phenomenon,” he said.