Faking the News class got my attention because understanding the power of communication tools is a very interesting topic for me. Back in 2013 when I was doing my BA degree in International Relations I developed a sentimental analysis based study of tweets during a war between Gaza and Israel. Since then, I became very curious on understanding the impact that social media takes in this scenario.
Social media platforms have the power to democratize the production and distribution of content. On facebook, youtube, instagram, whatsapp… both content and advertisement of big brands and massive news channels are side by side with small companies and individuals that want to expose their thoughts on the world. Still, as the same that this concept is indeed beautiful and inspiring, it can also be a powerful source of misinformation and hoaxes. Fake news, for instance, are a result of it.
Fake news are one of multiple worldwide phenomenons that have been growing in the past few years and that also contributes to this current counter-globalization scene. Phenomena such as xenophobia, the polarization of left/right sides within societies, the rise of nationalisms. If you take Latin American countries, for example, the phenomena of corruption is an established thing. It is not something new, but it definitely grew to a point in which the parties started to fight so much over this power (the power to corrupt and not actually to govern) that finally leaks started to be investigated.
Still, the investigations are usually limited because the corrupt government is, after all, the people in power. Besides, with the overflow of information, and the doubt in the actual veracity of it, maybe for the population it became easier and follow this trend of “polarize” it in right and wrong sides, to find scapegoats, rather than focus on the corruption issue.
If you open any reliable source of news from Brazil today and read the headlines, it is actually hard to believe that the news are real. There are so many involvement of politics with corruption, lies, scandals, revealed connections between parties and large national corporation for washing and stealing money, and so on, that is hard to keep track. As a Brazilian, it is really hard to understand all facts happening in the government. It seems that most of what is going on in Brazilian politics are actually already fake.
Here are some examples of the last headlines in reliable Brazilian’s news websites, just so you can have an idea:
What are each one of the 9 complaints against Lula.
Former president has already been convicted in the case of the triplex apartment in the beach of Guarujá and is guilty in 5 other cases – Nexo Jornal, 09/13/2017
Blairo Maggi, Temer’s minister, is the target of the Federal Police investigations.
Operation Malebolge involves several authorities accused of obstruction of justice and receipt of “monthly” and tip to authorize works of the World Cup – Carta Capital, 09/14/2017.
Did you get lost in the news? Check what is against Michel Temer
President Michel Temer was the target of a second complaint, presented by the Attorney General of the Republic, Rodrigo Janot. This time he was accused of obstructing justice and being part of a criminal organization. – O Globo, 09/14/2017.
As Globo just put, yes, Brazilians are totally lost in what’s going on and in who to rely.
As a Brazilian who is really worried with this crazy and confusing scenario, as it is hard to totally understand it, I am also struggling to come up with constructive projects towards Fake News for Brazil. Some organizations have put together “fact checkers” media websites such as Aos Fatos, Publica (with project truco) , and Lupa. By checking the veracity of fake news and statements made by politicians, they aim to help avoid misinformation.
Lupa, during the impeachment votes in the House and the Senate, votes that took down the former president Dilma Roussef due to the allegiance of her involvement in a corruption fraud, would tweet simultaneously to the members public announcements, their own legal backgrounds, in which 60% were also involved in political corruption scandals. With the current Brazilian politics, it is actually shocking when we can actually believe in “real” news and political statements.
I believe there is still a lot of space to create web visual tools that could help Brazilians overcome this gap when trying to understand political news and veracity. The biggest problem in Brazil is not actually the fake news itself but the actual government fake statements and corruption. Ultimately, I don’t truly believe that creating a fake new would have a positive impact in the scene. Also, I do not aim to make a satire, there are plenty of websites that can do that already. Thus, my Fake News Project approach should look forward bringing actual real news, fact checking platforms or maybe creating a hoax that would bring hope for such a critical political scene.