Brazil’s Electoral Justice Permanent Program on Countering Disinformation - Strategic Plan - Elections 2022

The Electoral Justice Permanent Program on Countering Disinformation, established by Ordinance- TSE nº 510, of August 4, 2021, represents the continuity and improvement of the effor ts of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) to reduce the harmful effects of disinformation regarding Electoral Court and its members, the electronic voting system, the electoral process in its different phases and the participants involved. Thus, disinformation content aimed at pre-candidates, candidates, political parties, coalitions and federations is excluded from its scope, except when the information conveyed has the ability to negatively affect the integrity, credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process.

The creation of the Program is aligned with the constitutional mission of the TSE to ensure that the electoral process takes place legitimately and democratically, falling within the Court’s administrative competence, without any sanctioning bias. The approach adopted is consisted with the main norms, research and recommendations on disinformation at the national and international level, is systemic, multidisciplinary and multisectoral. Concerning these parameters, a “network” model of organization and operation was chosen, based on the involvement of the Electoral Justice bodies and the formation of strategic partnerships with multiple participants. In this scenario, the TSE acts as a hub for dialog, cooperation and engagement of the whole society.

To ensure the integration and coordination between the strategic units of the TSE, the Program is structured internally with a Management Group, a Strategic Committee to Confront Disinformation and an Analysis and Monitoring Group, which will orbit, from the mandate of Justice Luiz Edson Fachin on, around the Special Advisory for Confronting Disinformation (AEED), in charge of carrying out the actions provided for in this Program. A national strategy was also planned that integrates the other Regional Electoral Courts (TREs) in efforts to acting against disinformation. Finally, the Program organizes relationships with partner entities, such as: (i) media vehicles; checking organizations and other associations representing sectors of the press; (ii) providers of internet, including social networks, private messaging services and search engines; (iii) political parties; (iv) public entities or bodies; (v) technology companies; (vi) associations, foundations, institutes, research institutions, movements or groups, including those from public and private universities, with exper tise in issues of disinformation, freedom of expression, technology, democracy, elections, electoral law and human rights , and notable public recognition in its area of expertise.

The permanent character of the Program guarantees not only its own structure with exclusive dedication, but also: the continuous training of the team; the construction of knowledge and innovation management processes; uninterrupted dialog with par tners; the strengthening of network operations and the development and execution of medium and long-term strategies against disinformation. The actions to be developed are distributed in three axes: (i) Inform, aimed at the dissemination of official, reliable and quality information; (ii) Empower, aimed at media literacy and training the whole of society to understand the phenomenon of disinformation and the functioning of the electoral process; and (iii) Respond, related to the identification of cases of disinformation and the adoption of strategies, both preventive and repressive, to contain its negative effects.

For the 2022 electoral cycle, the first axis has five projects with their own purposes and goals. They are: (i) mass dissemination network of truthful and official information about elections and the Electoral Justice; (ii) chatbot – electoral queries on WhatsApp; (iii) access, dissemination and enhancement of the scope of fact checking on the electoral process; (iv) deepening electoral transparency; (v) development and improvement of other technological tools and digital channels to disseminate true and quality information. In this strategic point, the Court’s action is guided by the preferential position of freedom of expression, in the legal system, by encouraging plurality of information. Likewise, information actions meet the recommendations for “prophylactic” prebunking actions (that is, strategies to reduce citizens’ susceptibility to disinformation by exposing examples of how disinformation operates). 

The second axis, in turn, includes seven initiatives: (i) training for internal and external audiences on disinformation, on the integrity of Brazilian elections and on the fundamentality of the Electoral Justice as an institution that guarantees democracy; (ii) prevention of the mental health of members, agents and collaborators of the Electoral Justice who deal directly with actions to contain disinformation; (iii) training the internal and external public on the electoral process, including the functions performed by it in the context of the democratic rule of Law; (iv) awareness campaigns on disinformation and media and information education actions for the external public; (v) cooperation and actions to enhance reaching partners’ media and information literacy initiatives; (vi) dialog with political par ties and party federations to make them aware of their responsibility in the context of fighting against disinformation; (vii) support to other public institutions to implement actions to confronting disinformation.

Finally, the response axis encompasses eight projects: (i) permanent coalition for verification; (ii) engagement of digital platforms and their technological resources in confronting structured networks of disinformation and inauthentic behavior; (iii) reporting channel for mass shooting of content in partnership with WhatsApp; (iv) creating a network to monitor disinformation practices against the electoral process; (v) containment of disinformation on Telegram; (vi) partnership and dialog with the Federal Police and the Electoral Prosecutor Office; (vii) Strategic Cyberintelligence Committee and (viii) review and elaboration of norms that acts against the practice of disinformation in the Electoral Justice, as a way of preventing the phenomenon in question. Concerning to this point, the planning met the parameters of timely response, appreciation of fact checking, importance of engagement and transparency of platforms, as well as the expansion and improvement of channels for complaints. This strategic plan defines regulatory frameworks, theoretical references, scope, axes, institutional organization, and multisectoral actions and strategies to be developed for the 2022 electoral cycle.