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YouTube to remove unfounded Brazil vote fraud videos

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A voting machine in a polling station in Igarape Miri, Para state, Brazil in November 2020's municipal election: far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has claimed without evidence there has been widespread fraud in Brazil's electronic voting system


A voting machine in a polling station in Igarape Miri, Para state, Brazil in November 2020’s municipal election: far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has claimed without evidence there has been widespread fraud in Brazil’s electronic voting system – Copyright AFP Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA

YouTube said Tuesday it would remove videos with unfounded accusations of fraud in Brazil’s 2018 elections, a claim President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly made as he gears up to seek reelection this year.

Bolsonaro won the 2018 presidential vote, but claims without evidence his margin of victory would have been larger if not for widespread fraud in Brazil’s electronic voting system.

The far-right president has brought the allegation back to the fore as he prepares to launch his reelection campaign ahead of the October 2022 vote — raising fears he could refuse to accept the result if defeated.

Stepping into the fray, YouTube’s Brazil office said it would remove videos that “promote false allegations that widespread fraud, errors or technical problems changed the result” of the 2018 election.

Political analysts warn that Bolsonaro could be preparing to follow in the footsteps of his political role model, former US president Donald Trump, who refused to accept his 2020 election defeat, alleging widespread vote-rigging.

Bolsonaro currently trails in the polls to his likely opponent, leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil is deeply polarized heading into the elections, which look set to be fertile ground for disinformation wars on social media, much like the 2018 campaign.

YouTube’s move comes after a Supreme Court judge last week ruled to block online messaging platform Telegram for refusing to comply with requests from Brazilian authorities, including to remove disinformation.

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The ban was lifted after Telegram agreed to remove the material, including an August post by Bolsonaro in which he questioned, without evidence, the reliability of Brazil’s electronic voting system, in use since 1996.

Bolsonaro has also had posts removed from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram for spreading disinformation.



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Interest in leaving Twitter grows as Musk’s grip tightens

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Twitter is changing under new owner Elon Musk

Twitter is changing under new owner Elon Musk – Copyright AFP/File Ben STANSALL

Analysis of Google Trends data reveals that web search trends for ‘Delete Twitter Account’ in the U.S. grew 335 percent on 1st week of November, 2022, around the same day when Elon Musk officially bought Twitter for $44 billion. Atypical for a takeover on this scale, the process was played out in public.

Many of the concerns are connected with the apparent right-wing shift in terms of the social media platform’s ethos that is being constructed as the result of Musk’s acquisition.

This finding came from a business-to-business networking site called SeeBiz. The company also saw a major increase in Google web search trends for other variations like “deactivate twitter”, “delete twitter”, “how to deactivate twitter”, “deactivate twitter account” etc. All the search term variations related to delete twitter are following same increasing trend as per the Google.

Elon Musk dubbed himself ‘Chief Twit’ in his Twitter profile and listed his location as the company’s San Francisco headquarters, as the deadline nears for him to complete his buyout. – Copyright AFP Hector RETAMAL

According to Richard Seymour writing in The Guardian, Musk has not purchased Twitter as the outcome of sound business analysis. Instead, this is part of political project and the consequences are unlikely to be positive. Seymour writes that Musk: “Notoriously rules by fear, breaking the law, busting unions and firing employees who criticise him. He appears to want to establish the same pattern at Twitter, based on his apparently unassailable conviction that he knows best.”

The chaos surrounding Elon Musk and his Twitter takeover seems to have upset a lot of the social media platform’s user base. Similar increase in trend these terms was also seen in the last week of April 2022, when Twitter initially announced that it had come to an agreement with Elon Musk.

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Analysis was also performed on the same trend in Google search volume as well:

Keywords and phrases Jul-22 Aug-22 Sep-22 Oct-22 Increase %
delete twitter account 60,500 60,500 49,500 110,000 94%
deactivate twitter 4,400 4,400 3,600 8,100 96%
delete twitter 5,400 5,400 4,400 12,100 139%
how to delete twitter 6,600 6,600 3,600 6,600 18%
how to deactivate twitter 3,600 2,900 2,900 5,400 72%
deactivate twitter account 1,600 1,600 1,300 2,900 93%
how to delete your twitter account 2,400 2,400 1,900 3,600 61%
how to delete twitter account permanently 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,900 90%
how to delete my twitter account 1,600 1,300 1,300 3,600 157%
how do I delete my twitter account 1,900 1,900 1,600 8,100 350%

In the U.S., the reaction to the buyout has been split along partisan lines, with praise for Musk’s planned reforms and vision for the company, particularly his calls for greater free speech coming from those of a conservative leaning. In contrast, Musk has received harsh criticism over fears of a potential rise in misinformation, disinformation, harassment, and hate speech on the platform, from those of a liberal or social democratic persuasion.

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