Telegram set measures to stop misinformation in Brazil ahead of country’s election

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Telegram has put up measures to curb misinformation in Brazil ahead of the country’s presidential election in October 2022.

In a report by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), the cross-platform instant messaging app says it will create a channel of communication between itself and the Brazilian Supreme Court to receive regular reports on election disinformation in the Latin American nation.

It added that it will henceforth flag posts that contain false information about the election.

But this cooperation between the app and the government body has elicited reactions from fact-checkers from the region.

Bernado Barbosa, an assistant editor at UOL Confere, a fact-checking outlet and verified signatory to the IFCN said, “the agreement with the TSE (the Portuguese acronym for the Brazilian court) seems like a good first step from a tech company that a few months ago, didn’t even answer court orders from Brazil.

“I believe it is positive to cooperate with the electoral authorities and to signal misinformation about the elections, but we still have no clue on how Telegram will act on disinformation spread by candidates.”

Also commenting, Natália Leal, the CEO of Agência Lupa, another IFCN verified signatory and news outlet in Brazil, said, “they are addressing the problem of tackling misinformation as a legal or justice (department) issue and not as a product problem.”

“They don’t have any kind of monitoring tool; they don’t want to develop it. They want us to do the monitoring work, but they want to control the scope of monitoring,” she added.

The report noted that Facebook also collaborates with fact-checking organizations and built an infrastructure around giving fact-checkers greater access and tools for analysis to tackle misinformation.

On Facebook, fact-checkers can use an in-house platform to view trends, ways content is spreading on the platform and numerical information about viral posts.

Though Leal also stated misgivings about Facebook, she said the platform was better overall for fact-checkers than Telegram.

“They don’t want to develop any kind of tool like how we have with Facebook for the Third-Party Fact-Checking Program.

“We have the same access that any user has. You can download some numbers and some information from Telegram. It’s open, but it doesn’t mean it’s usable. It feels like they are not taking things seriously,” Leal said.

She added: “In my opinion, Telegram should define a misinformation policy before taking any step forward, and make this policy clear for all users. We don’t want to start to work with Telegram and have a target on our back because users do not have knowledge or are not being informed about the new rules of the platform regarding misinformation.”

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