Analysis: As Brazil cracks down on fake news, Bolsonaro’s new move is straight out of Trump’s playbook
With the country’s first election under way in less than two months, you’ve likely heard about allegations of falsified elections in Venezuela, Russia, and other nations.
But if you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in Brazil you may have missed a story that’s received less attention: the emergence of fake news stories in Brazil.
The phenomenon is a direct result of the sharp turn toward the right that Brazil has taken over the past four decades. This means that while people may have heard about fake news in Venezuela, Russia, and other countries, they might not have heard about its appearance in Brazil.
But while fake news has been around in other democracies for a while, the story of fake news in Brazil began to appear in January. On Jan. 3, four days after the government’s “sneak peek” into the world’s most important election, its social media director, Luiz Paulo de Almeida, was caught disseminating and republishing an assortment of fake news stories to his Twitter followers.
These were all posted during the final week before Brazil’s election, between Jan. 24 and Jan. 29. The story of these fake news accounts is only the latest chapter in the story of the rise of the right and the widespread perception of a deliberate and systematic attempt by Brazil’s new government to suppress news, to eliminate dissenting voices, to attack dissenting parties.
Brazil is not the only country to experience this phenomenon. The story unfolded just months after similar fake news stories appeared in the U.S. and Europe. And as in Brazil, fake news stories had been circulating in the U.S. for a while. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported: “Experts say it’s too early to conclude if the phenomenon extends beyond social media but there is growing recognition that fake news is widespread.”
The evidence that the phenomenon of fake news is taking place in Brazil is overwhelming. In addition to the fake news accounts that de Almeida was allegedly