Brazil: Facebook group Meta apparently tolerates misleading election advertising

Presidential election in Brazil Facebook group Meta apparently tolerates misleading election advertising

Facebook likes to emphasize its efforts against anti-democratic manipulations. Activists still managed to break many of Meta’s rules.

Facebook app on the smart tphone: The social network is an important factor in the Brazilian election campaign

Photo: Jenny Kane / AP

Sentiment is heating up ahead of Brazil’s presidential election in early October, but Facebook company Meta is failing to tackle disinformation, claims NGO Global Witness. In an experiment, the experts deliberately violated Facebook’s own rules for the Brazilian election campaign, but their ads were still activated.

Meta itself is currently promoting its intensified efforts against disinformation. As the group emphasizes, it is now translating worldwide 40. people in the fight against misinformation and targeted campaigns and invest five billion dollars. In the run-up to the Brazilian elections, it is working with the relevant authorities to educate voters on how to vote and how to identify misinformation. The group also prevents false reports from spreading unchecked on WhatsApp.

Disallowed Ads Experiment

“For the first time, the Supreme Electoral Court will be able to report content directly on Facebook and Instagram that may violate our policies,” describes Meta

own efforts. The company informed SPIEGEL that before the local elections in 2020 all in all 140. Deleted posts on Facebook and Instagram and 250. for rejecting inadmissible political ads.

The London, Brussels and Washington-based organization Global Witness has the current effort put to the test: She placed ten ads that clearly violate the rules that Facebook has set for the Brazilian election campaign s gave himself. Five of the ads spread misinformation about the election process, such as where and when to vote. Five other ads contained messages delegitimizing the election itself. This includes, for example, the rejection of voting computers, as is currently being fueled by the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro himself

. The result: All ten ads were approved by Facebook.


Since the ads were not played out, some of the social media group’s measures came not to wear. They are based on users reporting suspicious posts. However, Meta claims that its own algorithms can recognize manipulations without user input. Thanks to artificial intelligence, these ,7 percent of Remove fake profiles before they are reported by users.

The non-governmental organization says it is particularly easy for the group to discover the manipulations. She did not place the ads from Brazil itself, but from IP addresses from Nairobi and London – actually clear alarm signals for the moderators who use Facebook.


“It is clear that Facebook’s election integrity measures are simply ineffective,” writes Global Witness in its Conclusion. “Meta must recognize that protecting democracy is not optional: it is a cost of doing business.” The non-governmental organization is therefore calling for the company to intensify its efforts in this and all other election campaigns. In this way, moderators should be better trained and all ads placed should be made transparent for third-party investigation.

Although Facebook publishes election advertising in a transparent process, the author of an ad and disclosed the expenses. However, the advertisements must first be marked as election advertising by the clients themselves.

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