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Brazilian gov't's website not enough against fake news, Pimenta says

Friday, April 7th 2023 - 10:22 UTC
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Many deaths “could have been avoided if it weren't for the misinformation campaigns,” Pimenta said about a drop in vaccination ratese Many deaths “could have been avoided if it weren't for the misinformation campaigns,” Pimenta said about a drop in vaccination ratese

Brazil's Chief Minister of the Presidential Secretariat of Social Communication Paulo Pimenta insisted this week that a website launched last week by the authorities to fight fake news does not replace the importance of private sites. The platform does not intend to replace professional agencies for checking the news, Pimenta said in an interview.

“This government site is not a verification agency. It is a government space for clarification to the population. To prevent the population from being misinformed about a decree, a law, or a public policy. This is the objective of this site. To be an important tool because it transmits security, and people regain confidence that information from the federal government is reliable information. It is an important source,” said Pimenta.

In recent days, the platform has been receiving criticism from journalists linked to news-checking agencies and experts in the fight against disinformation because the page, according to them, would present itself as a news-checking agency. According to the experts, the term “clarification center” would be more appropriate.

Currently, the page presents itself as “a public utility and information portal about public policies and government actions”, with the goal of “clarifying information about the federal government.” The platform features reports produced by the Secretariat of Communication (Secom) rebutting false news that circulate in the networks. The site also provides guidance to users on how to report fake news on each social network.

As Secom chief minister, Pimenta also talked about some of the consequences of fake news on public policies and cited damages about vaccination. “The Minister of Health came to me because of the amount of untrue information circulating on social networks about vaccination campaigns. Brazil has already been a world reference in this area. We reached 89% vaccination coverage in the country. Today we have less than 60%,” said Pimenta.

“Diseases like measles and polio, which had been eradicated, are back. During the covid pandemic, we had a tragedy. Now there are already 700,000 deaths, many of which could have been avoided if it weren't for the misinformation campaigns,” he added.

Pimenta recalled that the spread of fake news is not a problem unique to Brazil. The minister justified the need for an official campaign against disinformation, budgeted at R$20 million (around US$ 3,952,960), of which R$5.6 million (around US$ 1,106,829) are being spent on the first phase, which provides for the launch of the platform and ads for three months on television, radio, websites, social networks, and movie theaters.

“It is not a situation that involves only Brazil. I have had the opportunity to follow this debate a lot at the international level. The federal government ends up being one of the priority victims of criminal actions of disinformation and fake news,” said Pimenta.

(Source: Agencia Brasil)

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

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