Twitter recebeu mais de R$ 4 milhões para publicidade do governo Bolsonaro – Aplicativos e Software – Tecnoblog

Criticado por apoiar fake news, o Twitter Brasil já recebeu do governo de Jair Bolsonaro R$ 4,6 milhões em dinheiro destinado para propaganda desde janeiro de 2019, quando o presidente iniciou o mandato. However, data in the Transparency Portal gathered by Techblog show that the Presidency of the Republic and nine other ministries spent only BRL 1.9 million. You BRL 2.7 million remaining were discovered by an investigation of the Journalism Nucleus published this Friday (7).


Twitter recebeu mais de R$ 4 milhões em publicidade do governo Bolsonaro (Imagem: Brett Jordan/ Unsplash)

According to data from the Transparency Portal, which gathers public expenditures, the Bolsonaro government it practically doubled the transfer to advertisements on Twitter during a pandemic.

Were R$ 600.676,89 committed by the government to the platform by March 2020. After the WHO (World Health Organization) decreed a worldwide calamity due to COVID-19, this expenditure rose to R$ 1.337.030,68 — increase of approximately 122%. In total, this corresponds to around R$1.9 million.

The agency that spent the most was the Ministry of Health, which disbursed R$ 772.4 thousand since 2019, or 39% of the total. Then comes the Secom (Special Secretariat for Social Communication), which before June 2020 was the responsibility of the Presidency of the Republic, and is now under the control of the Ministry of Communications. The secretariat allocated R$546.3 thousand to Twitter — about 28%.

Declaredly, Secom passed it on R$ 112.483,48 to Twitter only in 2021. But a report from Journalism Nucleus details that, in fact, the institution spent more BRL 2.7 million with advertising on the social network last year. These expenses were not even disclosed in the Transparency Portal.

Using third-party advertising agencies to allocate public expenditures to a private company is not illegal. However, the measure does not aggregate government spending on Twitter, making tracking difficult of these expenses by news outlets and ordinary citizens.

Added together, Secom’s hidden expenditures with the government totals declared on the Transparency Portal amount to R$ 4.6 million destined to Twitter Brazil.

Limits for political campaigns on Twitter

Jack Dorsey, CEO do Twitter (Imagem: JD Lasica/Flickr)
Jack Dorsey, CEO do Twitter (Imagem: JD Lasica/Flickr)

In November 2019, Jack Dorsey, founder and former CEO of Twitter, posted a new directive on the platform not to accept political ads on his personal account. This measure applies to all countries where Twitter operates, including Brazil.

Later, it was decided that the rule includes any content that mentions a candidate., elected or appointed government official (such as president and ministers), election, referendum, vote, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome.

In his post detailing the measure, Jack Dorsey says:

“A political message gains reach when people decide to follow that account or retweet the post. Pay per boost removes this process, forcing users to highly specific partisan ads. We believe that this decision should not be influenced by money.”

However, these rules do not apply to government-driven content. Twitter explained to Techblog that “there is a difference between political advertising and boosting posts on public bodies’ profiles”. The social network added:

“Boosting content from official profiles of public bodies for the purpose of educating, informing or providing a public service is not prohibited by these rules, as long as the content is not served on behalf of persons or entities prohibited from advertising under our Political Content Policy and does not specifically mention them.

To boost content, public bodies must certify as relevant content advertisers, and content must comply with political content rules — that is, it cannot mention candidates, political parties, government officials.”

Twitter maintains a live deputy who questions the vaccine

The relationship between Twitter e o governo Bolsonaro went through some friction — the social network has already placed disinformation tags in posts from the Ministry of Health. In January 2021, the folder made a post promoting the so-called “early treatment”.

But for the president’s allies, the platform takes no action. This is the case of the federal deputy Kicis Beer (PSL-DF). Last Thursday (6), the parliamentarian allied to Planalto held a live on Twitter to criticize vaccination for children. One of Kicis’ guests to discuss the topic even mentioned that “it is not possible to find evidence that vaccines save lives”. The broadcast is still on the air, and has not received any disinformation tag, like the Ministry of Health post.

Last Tuesday (4), Twitter granted its esteemed blue verification seal for a Bolsonarista influencer Barbara Destefani, do canal de YouTube I updated you. She has more than 1.5 million subscribers on the video platform, and gathers 723,000 followers on the 240-character social network. In its pages, Destefani questions the vaccination against COVID-19.

Twitter gave a verification seal to Bárbara Destefani, from the Te Atualizei channel
Twitter gave the verification seal to Bárbara Destefani, from the Te Atualizei channel (Image: Reproduction/Twitter)

Destefani had its channel demonetized by decision of the minister and general inspector of the TSE (Superior Electoral Court), Luís Felipe Salomão, for spreading misinformation about the Brazilian electoral system. The influencer was also targeted by the minister of the STF (Supreme Federal Court), Alexandre de Moraes, in the Fake News inquiry.

Under subpoena, Twitter takes action in 22% of cases

Twitter has already shown itself against court decisions that force the platform to take down accounts. And this is supported by data transparency session of the social network.

They reveal that, in Brazil, the platform responded to only 22% of the court requests imposed to remove accounts or content between 2012 and 2020.

Every time Twitter is subpoenaed by the court, it follows a procedure of “compliance”, which means to delete content or account as determined by the court, or according to its own TOS (Terms of Service).

Twitter’s lack of moderation is reflected in the data on accounts deleted for violating the site’s rules: between June and December 2020, for example, of the 1,686 accounts that were the target of some legal measure in Brazil, only 117 were deleted for infringement of the TOS.

Yesterday, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) decided to act against the platform, and asked it to explain why there is no button to report fake news about COVID-19 for Brazilian users. This feature already exists for those who browse Twitter in countries like the US, South Korea and Australia.

Pressured by Justice and by the users themselves, who raised the hashtag #TwitterApoiaFakeNews, Twitter stated in a series of posts that “the eventual implementation around the world will depend on the measured results”. The MPF also demanded to know what is the internal process of the social network to check accounts with the blue seal, and whether the publication of public health disinformation is considered.

The automatic message that appears over Barbara Defanti’s blue seal and other verified accounts is that the profile has been authenticated because it is a “notable person, in government, news, entertainment, or any other designated category.”

But the platform has signaled that there may be problems with the verification criteria:

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