Relatório aponta manipulação em redes sociais em 48 países

Um relatório do Instituto de Internet da Universidade de Oxford, no Reino Unido, mapeou iniciativas do que chamou de “manipulação do debate público” em todo o mundo. Os autores identificaram entre 2010 e 2018 campanhas que visaram influenciar os cidadãos em polêmicas políticas e eleições em 48 países, às quais chamaram de “cibertropas”.

As nações estão localizadas em todos os continentes, como Américas, África, Europa, Ásia e Oceania. São listados casos mais notórios, como os Estados Unidos (na eleição de Trump em 2016) e o Reino Unido (com o referendo de saída da União Europeia em 2016). O Brasil foi citado como um dos locais onde as “cibertropas” atuaram, tendo como referência as eleições de 2010. Os pesquisadores mapearam partidos e entidades privadas atuando para influenciar a disputa.

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Agências governamentais e partidos políticos estão explorando redes sociais para difundir notícias falsas e desinformação (Arquivo/Agência Brasil)

Crescimento

O levantamento identificou um crescimento de mais de 70% nas iniciativas de manipulação do debate político. Na edição anterior do inventário, divulgada em 2017, haviam sido registrados 28 casos em diferentes países. Em cada um desses países há pelo menos um órgão público ou partido político envolvido nesse tipo de mobilização em redes sociais.

Os autores creditam o crescimento à atuação em processos eleitorais, no caso de legendas, e de reação à difusão das chamadas notícias falsas, no caso de agências estatais. O emprego de recursos para influenciar agendas políticas online por partidos foi localizado em 30 dos 48 países. Já a atuação de governos muitas vezes esteve relacionada ao medo de interferências externas nas discussões promovidas na internet. Essas iniciativas envolvem também órgãos criados para combater as notícias falsas.

“Ao redor do mundo, agências governamentais e partidos políticos estão explorando redes sociais para difundir notícias falsas e desinformação, exercer censura e controlar e minar a confiança na mídia, nas instituições públicas e na ciência. Em um tempo em que o consumo de notícias é crescentemente digital, inteligência artificial, coleta e análise de dados e algorítimos – caixas-pretas – estão sendo alavancados para desafiar a verdade e a confiança: os pilares da sociedade democrática”, sintetizam os autores.

Meios de difusão

Entre os recursos mais utilizados estão os robôs (bots), contas automatizadas empregadas para repercutir uma ideia ou perfil (que pode ser de um político, partido ou fonte de informação). Outra são as equipes de comentário, grupos contratados para ampliar as interações de um determinado indivíduo ou coletivo e, assim, fazer com que suas publicações alcancem mais pessoas e sejam objeto de mais interações.

Mas os autores descobriram o uso crescente de anúncios pagos nas plataformas digitais como recurso das iniciativas de manipulação. No Google, aparecem de foma destacada nos resultados das buscas. No Facebook, aparecem tanto como publicidade quanto como “posts patrocinados”, em caso de uma publicação paga para obter maior alcance.

No Brasil, as eleições deste ano serão as primeiras em que esse tipo de “conteúdo impulsionado” poderá ser utilizado como canal de campanha por candidatos e partidos. Recentemente o Facebook anunciou algumas medidas com o intuito de rebater críticas quanto à falta de transparência nesse tipo de mensagem.

Além dos anúncios, outro canal de divulgação que vem ganhando espaço são as redes sociais de mensagens, como Whatsapp, Telegram e o chinês WeChat. Segundo o levantamento, em 20% dos países onde foram identificadas iniciativas de manipulação esses são os principais espaços de difusão dessas campanhas, especialmente em nações do Hemisfério Sul.

Negócio

O estudo identificou os diversos instrumentos adotados em campanhas de manipulação (como coleta e análise de dados, construção de perfis comportamentais, difusão segmentada e personalizada de mensagens e plataformas de análise com inteligência artificial) como um grande negócio. Desde 2010, os partidos listados teriam gasto R$ 1,87 bilhão com a contratação de serviços como esses. A maioria dessas ferramentas, concluíram os autores, foram empregadas na difusão de notícias falsas em eleições.

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