Journalists launch innovative projects to counter electoral disinformation in Brazil

New tools and strategies to distribute factual content and reach audiences: see the products developed through "Jogo Limpo"

O Liberal

Text by International Center of Journalists


Teams of journalists in Brazil are rolling out new tools and resources to help voters spot disinformation and make more informed choices as the 2022 election cycle kicks off this month. The innovative projects - developed as part of the Jogo Limpo (“Fair Game”) initiative - include everything from a video fact-checking bot and an influencer campaign to gamification techniques for reaching youth.

The journalists spent three months working closely with expert mentors and received up to USD$25,000 to develop each of the six projects. The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) runs Jogo Limpo, which is supported by YouTube Brazil.

“The Jogo Limpo teams have developed innovative ways to help voters in Brazil discern fact from fiction, which is absolutely crucial given the threat that disinformation poses to free and fair elections,” said Johanna Carrillo, ICFJ’s vice president for programs. “There is no one, single solution, but these efforts combined will make a difference in Brazil and beyond, as other journalists in the ICFJ network learn from the approaches.”

ICFJ held a panel Aug. 11 with representatives from each Jogo Limpo team to discuss the upcoming elections and share details about the projects. Brazil’s campaign cycle for president, governors, senators, and federal and state deputies officially begins Aug. 16. The election is set for Oct. 2.

“YouTube's support for the Jogo Limpo program is an example of our commitment to promote and encourage the production of reliable content and to offer it on the platform. The selected projects will connect citizens to information that is verified and fact-checked in accordance with journalism´s best practices," said Malu Gonçalves, head of communications at YouTube Brasil.

Each Jogo Limpo initiative addresses disinformation from a different perspective. Two of them are tech based, two are focused on media literacy, and two are mobilizing partners and producing content to combat online falsehoods. 

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Amazon Check team, from O Liberal. Photo: João Ramos

Automating Fact-Checking

Núcleo Jornalismo, based in São Paulo, has launched  BotPonto, a bot that is capable of reading video transcriptions and letting fact-checking and journalists easily find content that might be wrong or misleading. BotPonto points out the exact minute a potential falsehood is stated on a YouTube video and will reduce the time spent by media to assess online recordings. 

Aos Fatos, from Rio de Janeiro, will add 1,000 journalists to Escriba, the voice-to-text tool the organization developed to be used during political debates. Escriba shortens the fact-checking process and is connected to a database that allows its users to search for content in different events.

Reaching Young Voters

Vero Institute, based in Rio de Janeiro, released "Fake dói," a media literacy program focused on teen voters. The initiative aims to teach young Brazilians to use Open Source Intelligence Tools (OSINT) to easily detect false content that goes viral. Vero will use gamification techniques as a way to engage this growing audience (Brazilians are eligible to vote at age 16, but voting is only compulsory for those 18 to 70).

Reload Explica initiative led by Agência Pública is  targeting the same demographic. Worried about the lack of political interest from Brazilian teenagers, the NGO today released a digital guide - made of videos, infographics, and cartoons - focused on teaching youth how democracy works. Betting on well made explanatory content, Pública wants to grab attention and make sure teens understand what is at stake in an election.

Mobilizing Influencers and Partners

Redes Cordiais, based in Brasilia, brought together a group of 30 digital influencers and provided training at the Superior Electoral Court on how ballots are counted, voting technology and more. Today, the initiative will release data regarding the reach an d engagement those influencers have registered so far when talking about voting machines and the vote counting process. Redes Cordiais aims to keep the group of influencers - who can reach up to 10 million Brazilians - mobilized during the campaign.

Finally, O Liberal, in Belém, officially announced Amazônia Check. The initiative fights misinformation and ignorance about the Amazon region. The project will monitor and check the statements of presidential candidates about the Amazon, including comments on the environment, population, human development index and more. As part of the project, O Liberal scheduled a series of interviews with candidates so that Brazilians can hear about their proposals and see their knowledge of the Amazon. The interviews will be in a "pool" with press from all the nine states that make up the Legal Amazon, and will start on September 5, Amazon Day. The content generated by the Amazônia Check project will also be shared out by a strong network of local media.