The main target is Mr Bolsonaro’s main opponent in the October elections, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In medium-sized pro-Bolsonaro groups, like “The Patriots” (11,782 subscribers) and “Bolsonaro 2022 support group” (25,737 subscribers), the attention is relentless. Comprehensively Shared Users a digitally altered image of a shirtless Mr. da Silva holding hands with President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela as if they had been a same-sex couple in the 1980s. (Need I say that’s not true?)
The claims are endless and outlandish: Mr. da Silva is sponsored by drug dealers; he will be persecute the churches; he is against middle-class Brazilians having more than one television at home. People use what they can get. A obviously satirical video – which shows an actor, in the guise of a lawyer for Mr. da Silva’s Workers’ Party, confessing to electoral fraud – is presented as irrefutable evidence. The lawyer’s name, which translates to something like “I don’t care about them”, should have given the game away. near.
Behind this frenetic activity lies a thinly disguised desperation. Mr. da Silva currently manages Mr. Bolsonaro in the latest poll, 41 percent to 36 percent. The reality of Mr da Silva’s popularity is clearly too painful to bear, so Telegram users are taking refuge in fantasy. “Finally a real poll” a user said, claiming that an imaginary pollster placed Mr. Bolsonaro in first place with 65% of voting intentions, against 16% for his opponent. When inventing polls isn’t enough, you can always cancel the race. “Fear of an international arrest, Lula will give up his candidacy” another claimed. The wish is almost touching.
Supporters of Mr. Bolsonaro have another big boogeyman: the Supreme Court, which has opened several investigations into the president, his sons and his allies. On Telegram, this scrutiny was not well received. People accuse judges of publicly defend rapepaedophilia, homicide, drug trafficking and organ trafficking. They share a manipulated image of a judge posing with Fidel Castro. They share an edited video in which another judge confesses that the Workers’ Party is blackmailing him for participating in an orgy in Cuba. (Justice said that – but actually gave a bizarre example of fake news against him, a rumor that Mr Bolsonaro himself helped create on Twitter.)
Some measures have been taken to stem this deluge of fake news. Some social media platforms have deleted videos of the president that spread misinformation about Covid-19 and the country’s electronic voting system. whatsapp has decided do not introduce in Brazil, a new tool called Communities, which brings together several discussion groups, until the end of the presidential election. In March, the Supreme Court banned Telegram for two days because the company ignored a court request to remove a misleading message about the country’s electoral system from the president’s official account (1.34 million subscribers). The company then agreed to adopt some anti-misinformation measures, including daily manual monitoring of the 100 most popular channels in Brazil and a future partnership with fact-checking organizations. A defective “fake news reportis being considered by Congress.