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Election Manipulation in Brazil's 2022 General Elections: The Role of WhatsApp and Telegram on the Attacks Against Electoral Integrity and the Threats to Democracy




Brazil, with its vibrant history and culture, has long been a beacon of political transformation in South America. Its journey from military rule in 1985 to democracy has been tumultuous but marked by resilience. As the digital age dawned, new challenges arose, especially in the form of digital deception. The turbulence surrounding the US 2020 General Elections found its counterpart in Brazil's 2022 General Elections, marked by the orchestrated coordination of bolsonarism group and its multifaceted conspiratory followers attacking election integrity and democratic values. Both countries faced the peril of information disorder and political manipulation tactics, culminating in multiple crimes, violence, and near-coup scenarios.


In Brazil, the distinction lay in the military's direct role in spreading deceptive propaganda, a fact brought to light by a congressional inquiry into the tentative coup sedition of January 8th, 2023. Beyond these specific events, a more pervasive issue looms large connecting democracies around the world: the capability of digital tailored propaganda and disinformation at scale to diminish public trust.


From the time-honored tradition of wax-sealed ballots to the modern marvel of electronic voting machines, Brazil's electoral journey mirrors that of a nation in constant flux. Yet, as it stands at the forefront of democratic evolution, Brazil—like many other nations—faces the monumental task of warding off the pervasive tide of chat apps mass-broadcast participatory manipulation cycle.


Our case study delves deep into an investigation of the affordances of WhatsApp and Telegram enabling the permanent digital infrastructure of a participatory disinformation and deceptive propaganda campaign against democracy. Central to this storyworld is the insidious spread of falsehoods regarding the electronic voting machines and the proposed panacea: the printed ballots and public electoral audit.


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