people who vote Brazil’s October 2 elections have been affected by a flood of misinformation and disinformation on social media in recent months. Telegram has become a centerpiece of the country’s far-right, which has called for a military coup or a violent uprising similar to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol if current President Jair Bolsonaro loses, the researchers said.
Dennis Kahn, head of research at social media threat analysis firm ActiveFence, said his biggest concerns were calls for military intervention in elections and support for Bolsonaro’s violent coup, threats that have surfaced on Telegram, Gettr and native platform PatriaBook.
“On mainstream platforms, [the far right] Might be more careful with what they post,” Kahn said. “So they’ll try to direct traffic to lower-end platforms. They saw more extreme content there. “
Such extreme content is not hard to find. “We are not thugs, we are free Brazilians fighting for your freedom!” he read a post in a pro-Bolsonaro Telegram group of more than 1,300 people in September. “Military Intervention or Communism! Without Military Intervention, nothing will change in this country!” Read another article in the same channel. Another post promoted a popular conspiracy theory that Boslonaro would win at least 60 percent of the vote, giving him a “blank check” to take control of the country by force. Other posts questioned the validity of the election — a type of content that Meta bans. The most popular groups tracked by the researchers have more than 10,000 members, while countless smaller groups can range from a few hundred to a few thousand members. Content is often shared among these groups.
“It’s clear that far-right groups are pushing these narratives of violence in unprecedented numbers,” said Flora Rebello Arduini, campaign director of advocacy group SumOfUs. The horrific parallels that happened.”
TikTok, Yuanhe Twitter Both have announced plans to monitor and respond to harmful content ahead of Brazil’s elections, but the execution is imperfect. A recent report by the nonprofit SumOfUs found that Meta allows ads calling for an armed uprising on September 7. Another group, Global Witness, found that Meta also allowed ads that questioned the integrity of the election. The problem is so big that it spans many platforms, but Arduini says Telegram stands out. Meta is reluctant to provide attributable comments on records.
“Telegram is a bigger problem because its governance is really immune to any kind of public pressure,” Arduini said. “That’s where you see the most vicious content.”
Telegram did not respond to a request for comment.
Telegram was heavily used by organizers of the January 6 riots in the United States. The platform is unregulated, with the exception of pornographic and terrorist content, making it a hub for conspiracy theories and disinformation that could otherwise be removed from platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.