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In Brazil, Lula fights to boost social media presence

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Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is working to boost his social media presence ahead of a presidential election in four months for help before touring Europe in September, a French NGO said on May 24, 2022. (FILES) In this file photo taken on May 01, 2022 former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blows a kiss as he attends a May Day (Labour Day) rally to mark the International Workers´ Day, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is working to boost his social media presence ahead of a presidential election in four months
for help before touring Europe in September, a French NGO said on May 24, 2022. (FILES) In this file photo taken on May 01, 2022 former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blows a kiss as he attends a May Day (Labour Day) rally to mark the International Workers´ Day, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. – Copyright AFP/File DENIS CHARLET

Jordi MIRO

At a bar in Brasilia, two longtime members of Brazil’s Workers Party retweet messages supporting Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on their cell phones, as part of his campaign’s drive to fight the overwhelming presence of President Jair Bolsonaro on social media.

“We will not stop. Our battle, too, is online,” said Ze Augusto, a retired professor, looking at his screen.

With a little more than four months to go until Brazil’s presidential election, Lula, 76, has a comfortable but declining cushion in the polls.

But on social media he is far behind in popularity to the far-right president, who will probably be his opponent in a run-off on October 30.

When Bolsonaro came to power in 2018, a key tool in his victory was an adept social media campaign run by his son Carlos. It was based on propaganda, disinformation and the political destruction of opponents.

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Since then, Bolsonaro has remained strong on social media, boasting a total of 47.5 million followers on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram and TikTok. That is triple what Lula has.

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Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010, does not use a cell phone and has taken part in five election campaigns in which social media did not yet exist. His aides decided months ago to go on the counterattack online.

It raised the number of messages the campaign sent and the interactions on its accounts. It also created profiles on new social media like TikTok and won support from famous people in Brazil like the singer Daniela Mercury and a social media influencer named Felipe Neto.

It also launched something called Lulaverso, a campaign website designed for young people, where users can join pro-Lula groups on major social media and share stickers and GIFs of the leftist icon dancing or wearing sunglasses.

– ‘Long ways to go’-

The social media campaign “improved but still has a long ways to go,” Workers Party president Gleisi Hoffmann told the news website G1 two weeks ago.

After Lula officially declared his candidacy this month, the party overhauled the campaign and named as its communications chiefs former lawmaker Rui Falcao and Edinho Silva, who was a government minister under president Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016).

“We are going to create a giant chain of activists and sympathizers and increase our communications means more and more so we can defeat Bolsonaro on every front,” Falcao told AFP.

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Lula’s campaign is doing well in tradtional media outlets. But Bolsonaro’s outreach from his ecosystem of pages and groups on digital platforms goes further because it targets everyday people rather than party members, said Pablo Ortellado, a professor of public policy and management at the University of São Paulo.

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The Lula campaign’s communication “is endogenous. It strengthen’s people’s conviction. But it does not manage to punch through the walls of its groups, which have a very defined ideology and political identity,” Ortellado said.

– Avoid fake news –

Bolsonaro and Lula have very different ideas about freedom of expression.

Bolsonaro advocates easing rules governing social media platforms, several of which have erased some of his content on grounds that it spread fake news.

Lula backs regulating social media but has never really gone into detail on how he would do this. And his party works against generating or forwarding false news, via a campaign of “stickers” that warn against and label falsehoods from Bolsonaro supporters.

Brazilian electoral authorities have taken measures to prevent the campaign, which officially begins in August, from becoming another disinformation war, as happened in 2018, in particular on WhatsApp.

“We want to win the election with the truth,” said Ze Augusto.

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Elon Musk’s Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

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Elon Musk's Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

Okay, let’s just check in on the latest with the Twitter/Elon Musk takeover saga, and where things are placed to close out the week.

According to the latest reports, Musk’s team recently asked Twitter for more tweet info, in order to help it make an accurate assessment of bot activity in the app. This comes after Musk questioned Twitter’s claim that bots and fake accounts make up only 5% of its active user base, and said that his Twitter takeover deal could not go ahead unless Twitter could produce more evidence to support this figure.

Which Twitter did, by providing Musk with access to its ‘full firehose’ of tweets over a given period, which it shared with Musk’s team back on June 8th. Musk’s group has now had that data for a couple of weeks, but this week, it said that this info is not enough to go on, and that it needs even more insight from Twitter to make its judgment.

And after initially resisting calls for more data access, Twitter has now reportedly relented and handed over more tweet data access to Musk’s team.

Which may or may not be a concern, depending on how you see it.

In its initial data dump, Twitter reportedly gave Musk’s team info on:

  • Total user tweets (within a given time period)
  • Data on which devices were used

As noted, Musk’s team says that this has not provided it with the insight that it needs to conduct an accurate analysis of potential bot activity, so Twitter has now provided Musk with more ‘real-time API data’.

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It’s not clear whether that means that Twitter has provided everything that its API systems can provide, but that could mean that Musk’s team can now access:

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  • Real-time info on tweet text and visual elements/attachments
  • Data on retweets, replies, and quote Tweets for each
  • Data on tweet author, mentioned users, tagged locations, hashtag and cashtag symbols, etc
  • Date, time, location, device info

That should satisfy any analytical needs to uncover potential bot trends, and get a better handle on Twitter’s bot problem, though it also means that Musk has all your tweet info – which, again, it’s worth noting, Twitter up till now had been hesitant to provide.

I’m sure it’s fine. Musk’s team is beholden to disclosure laws around such, so it’s not like they can do anything much with that info anyway, in a legal sense. But the idea that the sometimes erratic Elon Musk now has all the tweets could be a little concerning for some.

But Twitter likely had to provide what it can, and if Musk is going to become CEO of the app soon anyway, he’s going to have access to all of that data either way.

But still, given Musk and Co’s past history of undermining and attacking critics, sacking trouble maker employees and digging up potential dirt on rivals, it sits a little uneasy.

Should be fine. No problems – no need to go deleting all your DMs (which are likely not included in the data that Twitter has provided at this stage).

According to reports, Musk’s team says that it now has the info it needs to make its assessment of bot activity, which should see the deal move forward (or not) sometime soon.

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Of course, no one knows what exactly is going to happen next, and whether Musk’s team will look to renegotiate, or even back out of the deal entirely as a result of its bot analysis. But it does seem like, one way or another, Musk will be forced to go ahead with the $44 billion transaction, with Twitter’s past bot reporting methodology already accepted by the SEC, giving it legal grounding to argue that it’s acted in good faith, regardless of what Musk’s team finds.

The next steps then, according to Musk, would be securing debt financing and gaining Twitter shareholder approval, clearing the last hurdles for Musk to change the app’s name to ‘Telsla Social’, and add a million references to ‘420’ into the platforms various terms and conditions.

Because of the memes, because weed jokes are still funny to the richest man in the world – because he vacillates between inspired genius and a massive nerd who now gets to play out some fantasy of being cool.

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Or something. Who knows what goes on in Elon Musk’s head – which is also why most are hesitant to bet against him, as nobody knows if and how he might be able to fix Twitter, and whether this is a great investment or a massive disaster.

It seems like we may soon find out. Maybe. Who knows. Either way, the memes should be great.



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