On 2 – 3 November, the Department of Public Policy Analysis of FGV (FGV/DAPP) participated in the international forum “Policy Research vs. Alternative Facts: Will Think Tanks Become the Casualties in the Guerrilla War of Ideas?”, held by the University of Pennsylvania in partnership with Fundação Getulio Vargas. The Washington event brought together 45 think tanks with the aim of discussing the role of these institutions in encouraging informed public debates about policy at various levels of government in a context of the emergence of fake news and disinformation campaigns.
FGV/DAPP was represented in the Alt-Facts Forum by its director Marco Aurelio Rudieger, who presented the recent work of the department about the use of automated accounts during key moments of Brazilian politics. The study “Robots, Social Networks, and Politics in Brazil: illegitimate interferences in the public debate on the web, risks to democracy, and the 2018 electoral process” shows that during the April 2017 general strike, for example, more than 20% of interactions which took place on Twitter between users in favor of the strike were provoked by this type of account. During the 2014 presidential election, robots also generated more than 10% of the debate.
“The way that social networks are being used and manipulated to adjust agendas and advance the interests of particular groups is central in Brazilian and international politics. This question is being considered by all state-of-the-art think tanks, as could be seen in the Washington forum,” Ruediger stated. “This is a phenomenon which will occur with much greater intensity in the 2018 elections, even more so now because public funds are involved in the use of social networks. Our work seeks to investigate and propose solutions to maintain the net as an open channel for all and at the same time to prevent distortions which threaten democracy.”
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