Fake News Explosion in Portugal and Brazil the Pandemic and Journalists’ Testimonies on Disinformation
2. Ground Concepts
- Misinformation—information disseminated without a harmful intent;
- Dis-information—false information created and shared with the intention to harm, injure or hurt people;
- Mal-information—the sharing of real (or unreal) information to damage (Wardle and Derakshan, Council of Europe. In their report for the Council of Europe, Wardle and Derakshan (2017) examine what they call “information disorder” and other problems, such as filter bubbles and echo chambers, and argue that we are witnessing “information pollution at a global scale”. In this technological world of communication facilities, “polluted” messages are being created and amplified by social media at speeds never imagined from malicious accounts (Wardle and Derakshan 2017, p. 4).
- It is low in facticity—it contains false information, false connections, false context, manipulated content, or misleading content (Wardle 2017), either fully or partly (Tandoc et al. 2017);
- It is presented in a journalistic format—it is an imitation of news. Fake news “mimics news media content in form” (Lazer et al. 2018), and is presented in a journalistic format following certain standards: similar components—the structure with a headline, text, and image—or, if it is a video or audio, pseudo-journalistic aspects may mislead recipients;
- It is created with the intention of deceiving—the main motivations are political, ideological, or financial, but fake news can be created in a humorous mood, to entertain, or to provoke (Wardle 2017) mental results, their interpretation, and the experimental conclusions that can be drawn.
3. Materials and Methods
4. Results and Discussion
- Those that produce and have an interest in it;
- A journalist who publishes news not confirmed due to the desire to publish, creating anxiety and confusion. This becomes false news, because it creates expectation;
- Manufactured news, made by robots with political interest;
- Created as a game, a joke;
- Journalists who induce readers to click on news when in fact the subject is not that. Recently a portal published that a university student was missing. However, at the bottom of the text was the information that the student wrote a letter to the family and decided to leave the house. This is great fake news that induces the reader to read a news piece that is not true (I6).
“A newspaper recently reported that the Government was going to release prisoners convicted of rape and violent crimes, which was not accurate to proclaim. Also, recently, several news organizations stated that the new Lisbon airport in Montijo was no longer going to advance because of the pandemic, which was similarly false” (I2).
“She told me that the State of Emergency had been enacted. I asked her about the certainty that she showed on the subject, because I had the information that the decision would only be known later. She told me that she had received, at that very moment, the alleged ‘decree’ through her husband, also a journalist. I researched and found that the President was still listening to the parties. The truth is that the lie gained a ‘truth value’ when it was broadcast on a network of people who considered themselves credible sources. The lack of a sieve would have paved the way for media coverage. But when confronting several sources, it was possible to verify that the document was forged” (I5).
“Our president [Bolsonaro] posted a user’s video on his social network, saying that Ceasa [a large market for horticultural products] was short of supplies. It was not true. He replicated this video without checking the source (...). This had a practical effect: people became desperate and went after food. Press managed to clarify all that. Last week, it came a buzz that Mandetta [Luiz Henrique, the Ministry of Health] would be fired. As delicate as the situation is, I think that journalism should only publish information when it is certain” (I6).
“Elections are unpredictable and websites are evil and cheap tools”, reflected I1. Portuguese journalists stated that false websites, dedicated to disinformation, appeared and disappeared in a short period of time. Because of that, I3 thought that “social media is a serious problem”. He gave a warning, as he did not see anyone worried about that: “I think Portugal has to be alert. There are signs that the topic is starting to become important. They are undermining information and whoever does serious journalism. (...) We will lose readers to manipulation, extremism”.
“In all elections—both in the last and in future—there will be a fake news spill, because the so-called traditional journalism is being attacked more by the alternative media, by the ‘WhatsApp Aunts’, people who are informed by the social media, who gained projection and a voice that they didn’t have before. Look, people who do not know what they are saying now speak and get reverberation by these means. I see nothing that electoral justice can do (...). One way out of this flow is to strengthen traditional vehicles, not because they are traditional, but because the profession of journalism has filters that minimize the chance of absurdity that is said in social media networks” (I7).
“It´s painful to say this but I think it does [have responsibility on fake news distribution]. As in all professions, there are good and bad professionals. This does not characterize the profession per se. But above all, I think that there are media outlets that deliberately deceive people and are not punished for that. (...) And I distinguish between what is a mistake of an individual journalist—who is human—from what is a deliberate falsehood, without guilt or error being assumed later. Unfortunately, neither the ERC nor the [Portuguese] License Commission8 fulfill their role” (I2).
(A) “Credibility is the greatest asset that journalism can have. If we throw it away, the profession will no longer be respected, people will think they do not need us, and the economic effects will be—as they are—a disaster” (I2).
(A) “Journalism must continue to fulfill its mission and, therefore, I do not think it is threatened. We must take advantage of the fact that there is information circulating that is not certified. So, we assert our notoriety, our value. What we can add is credibility, trust, truth, things that fake news do not bring. There is no machine that can investigate, you can write a news report from the weather, but only journalism has the capacity to tell stories, certify them, and its path will be the same, the search for the truth” (I1).
(B) “In a parallel world, there are very efficient actors who attack journalists as diffusers of information and depreciate media organizations, doubting its credibility. Before the resignation of Minister Sergio Moro9, the media was accused of wanting to destabilize the Brazilian government, planting an intrigue between the President and his most popular minister, (...) to force an impeachment. But reality imposed itself over the ‘WhatsApp Aunts’ and their gossips” (I7).
(B) “We have been following a lot of false content that is, in fact, true. In addition, many of these fake news are accompanied by details and criticism to the press or to specific journalists. Perhaps this generates social commotion and more pressure on the media in general. About the journalist: I don’t see that it affects credibility, but until these fake news are vehemently denied with data by the press itself, and his/her image (...) is reestablished, we cannot negate it reaches, in fact, each of us. (...) At least this is not a phenomenon restricted to our profession. ‘The death of expertise’, to remain in the title of Tom Nichols’ book, occurs in all areas of knowledge as we move towards this increasingly horizontal and unfiltered world” (I9).
“If people want to [that journalism continues to exist], yes. They must realize that serious journalism, which has a purpose, is an expensive thing, which needs funding. There ought to be a policy for media literacy, and the way out is still education. Everyone should get involved: the government, the schools, the media organizations. There is no other way: the survival must come through education” (I3).
“This is, in fact, the only certainty I have. Fake news can eventually create a need for people to trust someone again. And this pandemic is a proof of that: at such an important moment, people started looking for journalism once more. The biggest problem is the economic survival of journalism and, in that field, it will be up to the governments to have the courage to make decisions. Journalism cannot be confused with a Facebook post. Nor with a text on a blog or with articles published on ad hoc sites. States must regulate once and for all the major digital platforms and compel them to pay for the product they use and resell. It is necessary that regulation be more demanding with the criteria for granting licenses to the media and professional journalist license. And it is necessary, by the way, that the media companies reinvent themselves and find new business models” (I2).
Institutional Review Board Statement
Conflicts of Interest
A paper with this theme was presented at the 2nd Multidisciplinary International Symposium on Disinformation in Open Online Media (Misdoom). 26–27 October 2020 (online), Leiden University, The Netherlands.
The first study was carried out in Brasilia, Brazil, between September and October 2018. In that survey (September 2018), we included journalism teachers. For the journalists themselves we used the mailing list from the Brazilian Federation of Journalists.
We only received two questionnaires, which were insufficient for our analysis.
The selection was based on the most significant answers or those that reached the central point of the question asked.
“Quando a esmola é muita, todo santo desconfia”.
Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (Portuguese Regulatory Authority for the Media Social) is an independent administrative agency.
On 6 September 2018, Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed during the 2018 presidential campaign.
Comissão da Carteira Profissional de Jornalista, an independent organization governed by public law that oversees the practice of the journalistic profession in Portugal.
Brazilian Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro resigned after a conflict with President Jair Bolsonaro in late April 2020.
In fact, currently there are several media literacy projects in Portugal, some of which are led by newspapers. A good example is the newspaper Público, which publishes the P3 supplement and distributes newspapers at universities for free. Another interesting initiative was led by the Union of Journalists, which, together with the Ministry of Education, organized teacher training activities related to media education.
- Allcott, Hunt, and Matthew Gentzkow. 2017. Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of Economic Perspectives 31: 211–36. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Bardin, Laurence. 2011. Análise de Conteúdo. São Paulo: Edições 70, p. 229. [Google Scholar]
- Brin, Colette, Jean Charron, and Jean de Bonville. 2004. Nature et transformation du journalisme: Théorie et recherches empiriques. Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval. [Google Scholar]
- Canavilhas, João. 2010. O novo ecossistema mediático. Covilhã: Biblioteca Online de Ciências da Comunicação. [Google Scholar]
- Carlson, Matt. 2017. Journalistic authority: Legitimating news in the digital era. New York: Columbia University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Egelhofer, Jana Laura, and Sophie Lecheler. 2019. Fake news as a two-dimensional phenomenon: A framework and research agenda. Annals of the International Communication Association 43: 97–116. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Eco, Umberto. 1984. Viagem na irrealidade cotidiana. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, p. 234. [Google Scholar]
- Foucault, Michel. 1988. História da Sexualidade. Rio de Janeiro: Graal, p. 9. [Google Scholar]
- G1. 2018. É #Fake que Haddad criou kit gay para crianças de seis anos. Available online: https://g1.globo.com/fato-ou-fake/noticia/2018/10/16/e-fake-que-haddad-criou-kit-gay-para-criancas-de-seis-anos.ghtml (accessed on 7 May 2020).
- Gelfert, Axel. 2018. Fake News: A Definition. Informal Logic 38: 84–117. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Giuliani-Hoffman, Francesca. 2017. ‘F** News’ Should Be Replaced by These Words’, Claire Wardle Says. CNN. Available online: https://money.cnn.com/2017/11/03/media/claire-wardle-fake-news-reliable-sources-podcast/index.html (accessed on 7 May 2020).
- Gray, Jonathan, Liliana Bounegru, and Tommaso Venturini. 2017. ‘Fake news’ as infrastructural uncanny. New Media and Society 22: 317–41. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Guo, Lei, and Chris Vargo. 2018. “Fake News” and Emerging Online Media Ecosystem: An Integrated Intermedia Agenda-Setting Analysis of the 2016 US Presidential Elections. Communication Research 47: 178–200. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Jorge, Thaïs de Mendonça. 2013. Mutação no jornalismo. Como a notícia chega à internet. Brasília: Editora Universidade de Brasília. [Google Scholar]
- Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. 2004. Os elementos do jornalismo. São Paulo: Geração. [Google Scholar]
- Lazer, David M., Matthew A. Baum, Yochai Benkler, Adam J. Berinsky, Kelly M. Greenhill, Filippo Menczer, Miriam J. Metzger, Brendan Nyhan, Gordon Pennycook, David Rotschild, and et al. 2018. The science of fake news. Addressing fake news requires a multidisciplinary effort. Science 359: 1094–96. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
- Lévy, Pierre. 2002. Cyberdémocratie. Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob. [Google Scholar]
- Nielsen, Rasmus K., and Lucas Graves. 2017. “News you don’t believe”: Audience Perspectives on Fake News. Available online: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/201710/Nielsen%26Graves_factsheet_1710v3_FINAL_download.pdf (accessed on 3 May 2020).
- Nichols, Tom. 2017. The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Pena, Para. 2019. Fábrica de mentiras. Viagem ao mundo das fake news, 1st ed. Lisboa: Penquim Random/Unipessoal. [Google Scholar]
- Pereira, Fábio Henrique, and Zélia Leal Adghirni. 2011. O jornalismo em tempo de mudanças estruturais. Intexto 1: 38–57. [Google Scholar]
- Quandt, Thorsten, Lena Frischlich, Svenja Boberg, and Tim Schatto-Eckrodt. 2019. Fake News. Available online: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332749986_Fake_News (accessed on 6 May 2020).
- Schaub, Michael. 2017. Trump’s Claim to Have Come up with the Term ‘Fake News’ Is Fake News, Merriam-Webster Dictionary Says. Available online: www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-fake-news-20171009-story.html (accessed on 4 May 2020).
- Silva, Juremir Marchado. 2019. Fake news, a novidade das velhas falsificações. In As fake news e a nova ordem (des) informativa na era da pós-verdade. Edited by Joao Figueira and Silvio Santos. Coimbra: Coimbra University Press, pp. 33–45. [Google Scholar]
- Silverstone, Roger. 2014. Por que estudar a mídia? 4th ed. São Paulo: Loyola. [Google Scholar]
- Steinmetz, Katy. 2017. The Dictionary Is Adding An Entry for Fake News. Available online: https://time.com/4959488/donald-trump-fake-news-meaning/ (accessed on 7 May 2020).
- Tandoc, Edson, Jr., Wei Lim Zhang, and Richard Ling. 2017. Defining “fake news”. Digital Journalism: A Typology of Scholarly Definition 6: 137–53. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- The Conversation. 2019. The Real News of ‘fake news’: Policians Use It to Discredit Media and Journalists Need to Fight Back. Available online: https://theconversation.com/the-real-news-on-fake-news-politicians-use-it-to-discredit-media-and-journalists-need-to-fight-back-123907 (accessed on 7 May 2020).
- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2017. The Real Story of ‘Fake News’. Available online: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/the-real-story-of-fake-news (accessed on 2 May 2020).
- Wardle, Claire. 2017. Fake News. It’s Complicated. Available online: https://firstdraftnews.org/latest/fake-news-complicated/ (accessed on 7 May 2020).
- Wardle, Claire, and Hossein Derakshan. 2017. Council of Europe. Available online: https://rm.coe.int/information-disorder-toward-an-interdisciplinary-framework-for-researc/168076277c (accessed on 6 May 2020).
- Wolton, Dominique. 2005. Il faut sauver la communication. Paris: Flammarion. [Google Scholar]
- Wolton, Dominique. 2010. Informar não é comunicar. Porto Alegre: Sulina. [Google Scholar]
|Interview 3||Jornal do Fundão newspaper||In-personal||M||Portugal|
|Interview 4||Rádio Cova da Beira radio||In-personal||F||Portugal|
|Interview 9||O Globo|
|Interview 10||Valor Econômico newspaper||M||Brazil|
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Share and Cite
Canavilhas, J.; Jorge, T.d.M. Fake News Explosion in Portugal and Brazil the Pandemic and Journalists’ Testimonies on Disinformation. Journal. Media 2022, 3, 52-65. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3010005
Canavilhas J, Jorge TdM. Fake News Explosion in Portugal and Brazil the Pandemic and Journalists’ Testimonies on Disinformation. Journalism and Media. 2022; 3(1):52-65. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3010005Chicago/Turabian Style
Canavilhas, João, and Thaïs de Mendonça Jorge. 2022. "Fake News Explosion in Portugal and Brazil the Pandemic and Journalists’ Testimonies on Disinformation" Journalism and Media 3, no. 1: 52-65. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia3010005