“In war, the truth is the first victim.” The phrase, attributed to Aeschylus (a Greek philosopher who died 2,500 years ago), applies very well to the present day, when the electoral campaign took on the shape of a battle.
Lies, rumors and speculation have always been present in electoral disputes – from the guy who got on the bus and started to slander a certain candidate to anonymous pamphlets with injuries spread on the eve of voting days. The big news this year is the uncontrollable spread of messages over the internet.
Untrustworthy websites, fake Facebook pages and profiles spread a frightening amount of nonsense. Facebook withdrew 196 pages and 87 accounts, for spreading misinformation – the vast majority of them linked to the Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL).
Concerned about the spread of lies, Google developed tools to help the user to identify the so-called “Fake News”. In addition, it changed its search system to present results with more credibility first, following criteria of the International Fact-Checking Network (entity that fights the spread of false news).
However, the big problem is the spreading of lies by the WhatsApp application, which has no intermediation between sender and receiver. On impulse, contaminated by the heat of the polarized political debate, the person shares the message, without worrying about its veracity.
The Federal Police have mechanisms to identify the origin and authorship of Fakenews, and somewhat quickly. But even so, the spread of lies always causes great damage. The production and dissemination of injuries, slander and defamation over the internet are not beyond the reach of Justice – in these cases, the excuses of “passed me” and “I thought it was true” don’t stick.
A fertile land for lies
Brazil is a fertile ground for the propagation of false information. It is the fourth country with the most people connected to the internet – 116 million people. It is second only to China (1 billion), India (337 million) and the United States (272 million). 49% of Brazilians access by cell phone. Of these, 53% spend an average of 6 hours per day connected.
Several surveys indicate that the Brazilian’s capacity for discernment is terrible. A study by the Ipsos Institute placed Brazil in the second place in the ranking of countries without a sense of their own reality.
Ignorance is a problem that affects not only the poorest sections of the population, but also the so-called elites. The examination by the São Paulo Regional Medical Council (Cremesp) revealed that the overwhelming majority of newly graduated doctors were unable to interpret a mammogram or diagnose diabetes. In the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) exam, only 15% of law graduates passed the first phase.
There’s more: a study commissioned by the NGO Ação Educativa reveals that 3 out of 10 Brazilians are functionally illiterate, that is, they read a text but do not understand its meaning.
How to identify Fake News:
1. Use the suspfiometer- False news seeks to cause outrage and, for that, seeks to bring absurd content. Be wary!2. Check the source – If the information does not identify the source (news from a newspaper or TV, article from a specialist, scientific research), ignore it.3. Check the credibility of the source – See if it exists first. There are several cases of “USP professors” and “Harvard research” that do not exist. If so, see if she really spoke on the subject. If so, make sure that she has the authority to speak on the topic. Be very careful with sites created exclusively to propagate Fake News.4. See the date-If you are sharing a news item from a credible newspaper, website or TV, pay attention to the date of publication.5. Manipulations- Watch out for edits, tricks, cuts, audios attributed to famous people.6. Seek help- Check sites specialized in data checking: rumors.org , fakeounews.org , Fato ou Fake , from G1.
To act wisely:
1. If you have doubts about the truth, do not pass it on! Otherwise, in addition to helping to spread a lie, you become co-responsible for its dissemination and, therefore, subject to the penalties provided for in the Penal and Civil codes.2. If you were able to prove that the content is fake, let the person who sent it know. As spirits are heated, be polite, with messages like “We don’t need lies to support our candidate”.3. Don’t leave groups or break friendships because of political debate. If the person shared a “fake News” in a group, alert the whole group and not just the person who sent the lie.
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