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Brazilian authorities clamp down on disinformation ahead of 2nd-round vote

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL: Former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, candidate for President of the Republic of Brazil, attends a motorcade Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 20, 2022. (Fabio Teixeira - Anadolu Agency)
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Oct 21, 2022 - 08:13 AM

BUENOS AIRES (AA) – Brazilian electoral authorities expanded their powers Thursday in a bid to fight disinformation in the runup to a second-round vote in the country’s presidential election on Oct. 30.

Amid Brazil’s highly polarized environment, the country’s Superior Electoral Court (TSE) announced tougher measures against the spread of fake news online, passing a resolution to combat “disinformation that threatens the integrity of the electoral process.”

According to the resolution, the aim is to target “the systematic production of misinformation, characterized by the persistent publication of false or decontextualized information about the electoral process.”

The resolution takes effect from Thursday, ahead of what is expected to be a close race in the second-round run-off between far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and opposition candidate and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Under the resolution, the court can order social media companies and websites to directly remove suspected disinformation.

According to the resolution, if digital platforms do not act against disinformation to remove content within two hours after being reported, authorities will have the power to impose fines between 100,000 reais ($19,164) and 150,000 reais ($28,746) for each hour afterwards.

Recently, the court has played an active role on the campaign trail, ordering social media platforms to delete a range of content against both Bolsonaro and Lula amid the highly charged political environment.

According to the president of the court, Alexandre de Moraes, recently Brazil has seen an increase in fraudulent news, with authorities requiring a “faster procedure” to combat disinformation.

The newly passed resolution also prohibits paid electoral ads from being aired 48 hours before the vote until 24 hours after the election.

In recent months, various organizations have expressed concern about the potential impact of disinformation on Brazil’s presidential campaign.

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