U.S. think tank discusses impact of social media and disinformation in election periods

Director of FGV DAPP presents analysis in Brazil Institute on the impact of social networks and disinformation in elections

8 months ago

Last Wednesday, September 5, the director of FGV’s Department of Public Policy Analysis (DAPP), Marco Aurelio Ruediger, joined the seminar titled “Candidates, Voters, and Bots: The Forces at Play in the October 2018 Brazilian Elections” held by the Brazil Institute, from the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank, based in Washington. The event discussed this year’s elections in Brazil amidst the rise of social media, disinformation and skepticism towards public institutions.

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Ruediger participated in the second panel of the seminar, titled: “The Role of Social Media, Bots, and Fake News in the Brazilian Election Campaign”. Meg King, coordinator of the Wilson Center’s Science, Technology and Innovation Program, sat beside the DAPP director in the panel, discussing the potential role of social media, fake news and bots in this year’s elections.

The director of FGV DAPP observed that the fragmentation of the political poles allows the emergence of new entrants, potentially capable of winning the election. The resurgence of the right, of other centralities on the left, and the weakening of traditional party hegemony have nexus with the use of networks, which alters the traditional binary configuration of politics and the variables of influence on voters.

“Brazil’s elections could be heavily influenced by its neighbors and countries that have strategic and economic interests in Brazil, such as China and Russia. Fake news has always existed in politics. It’s not something new. The difference is that now one can create thousands and thousands of fake profiles to spread these fake news in a matter of seconds. That is misinformation, and it is a huge problem for a democratic society”, said Ruediger.

The first panel, titled “Assessing the Field of Presidential Hopefuls”, provided an overview of the upcoming elections and Brazil’s current political scenario. Experts discussed strategies to bring the economy back on track, outlined the profile of internet users in Brazil, and addressed investigations of corruption cases in the country over the last four years.

DAPP opened the Digital Democracy Room in late July, to monitor public debate and the impact of disinformation practices on social media during the 2018 elections.


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