Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Will Legislation in Brazil Effectively Fight Fake News?

Brazil’s Senate earlier this week passed legislation to crack down on misinformation. The measure is now in the hands of the Chamber of Deputies. // File Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters via

Brazil’s Congress is advancing legislation aimed at addressing the spread of fake news in the country, an issue that has garnered attention as investigations into alleged disinformation schemes involving supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro continue to roil the nation’s politics. Critics of the measure, which the Senate approved this week, say it is hastily constructed and may have damaging consequences for free speech, individual privacy and democratic debate. The bill is now set to move on to the lower chamber. How big of a problem is the online dissemination of disinformation in Brazil? Would the proposed legislation solve the problem, and at what cost? What strategies by governments, Internet platforms and other actors exist for effectively tackling disinformation while safeguarding free expression and privacy, and what practices should be avoided?


Alberto Arebalos, chief executive officer of MileniumGroup Inc. and former Latin America communications director for Facebook and Google: “Fake news, or more precisely, the distribution or production of information known as false or misleading, is a problem on a global scale, reinforced and sometimes even promoted by social networks, mainly Facebook. So, it is understandable that governments and the civic society as a whole would want to limit or—if that were possible—eliminate this corrosive consequence of this crossing between technology and freedom of speech. However, every time we deal with speech and expression laws that limit them, no matter the reason or the intentions, those laws are usually bad or not very well thought out. The legislation in Brazil would create an enormous burden for many online companies, chip at privacy, disincentivize…”

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