Misinformation Is Threatening Brazil’s Elections, Too

By Robert Muggah, Louise Marie Hurel and Pedro Augusto Francisco

Published in Americas Quarterly

After witnessing the deluge of disinformation during the bitterly contested U.S. presidential election, Brazilians are preparing nervously for their own municipal elections on November 15, with runoffs roughly two weeks later. These elections are consequential: There are 5,570 municipalities in Brazil, and what happens this month could shape the political landscape for the presidential contest in 2022. Like the United States, Brazilians are voting amid a brutal pandemic, a deepening economic crisis – and a tidal wave of misleading and deceptive digital propaganda.

Since the controversial presidential campaign of 2018, several public institutions and social media platforms have taken steps to mitigate fake news, dangerous rumors, hate speech and defamation. But while new legislation and regulation could make a difference in the upcoming elections, recent examples of misinformation are proof that their risks to Brazil’s democracy are very real.

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