The University of Porto (Portugal) hosted the Brazilian communication advisor, José Chrispiniano, to discuss one of the latest phenomena these days: fake news; and of course the recent polemical elections in Brazil.
Vasco Ribeiro and Fernanda Sarkis, both academics at Faculty of Arts and Humanities of University of Porto (FLUP by its acronym on Portuguese) lead the conference for all the persons involved in the second hall at FLUP.
To begin with, they gave a general idea about the concept of fake news: a construction of information that has not sustainable nor veridic arguments, most of this news have the purpose to discredit or hoist someone with false data.
Chrispiniano worked with Lula da Silva, Brazil´s ex-president, and later on the political campaign of Fernando Haddad, both candidates of Worker´s Party (PT by its acronym in Portuguese). He started explaining with a little bit of history “Since the 90´s decade the media started to abruptly change and had many revolutionary modifications with the appearance of the internet and computers”.
“Now, with the social media, everyone becomes an emitter and a receiver at the same time, this means that people started changing their own relationship with communication,” said Chrispiniano. He also pointed out that “All these variations have created a big data quantity about every person in a way has never seen before” meaning that people are no longer a spectator, they can participate and produce information according to their ideological leanings.
Fake news most of the times has a political interest in between, so the strategy to make them work is the same as any media content: demographic segmentation (age, gender, studies, work, religión, etc.) with that data is easier to catch and have a strong influence on a particular public.
As a matter of fact, Chrispiniano could not let behind the Brazilian elections from the last year. According to his experience, they were the perfect example of the fake news spreading and how they impact on political decisions.
“On October 19th, 150 Whatsapp accounts were created in order to denigrate the PT´s candidate, this accounts spread a lot of toxic messages” conjoined with Brazilian political system. “Yes, we have a lot of problems” he recognized.
Another interesting fact that Chrispriniano points out is the “public opinion removal phenomenon, this occurred in plenty of Brazilian citizens. According to the social media rankings Bolsonaro became the most popular candidate on social media in just a few hours”. He strongly believes that Bolsonaro´s perspective worked as an exhaust valve for those people that had to retain all their intolerance for the last years and many others discovered.
To conclude the speech, the presenters offered a brief questions and answers session so the audience could get involved in the analysis.
When Chrispriniano was asked about specif strategies during the campaign for PT, he explained that they were not able to move forward on the debate in context of Bolsonaro´s hate speeches, “during the second round on the campaign there was no space on the public agenda to announce firm proposals”.
During this section, many persons were concern and intrigued about all the implications round fake news and how this trend can step in journalistic, political, social and economic matters by means of the social media.
Although, the academics and the advisor communication concluded that there is not a specific answer to this subject because it has a very complex structure that involves enterprises and sometimes government participation. Still, society can help to curb this problem starting to verify information sources before sharing.