Bots and Brazil´s electoral legal system: 2018 elections
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In democratic elections, voting usually comprises two fundamental empowering aspects: electors vote for candidates because they agree with their projects and have a positive assessment of their background or party, and/or electors vote for candidates because of their charisma, honesty, and other values transmitted by candidates’ own image (MUTZ, 2009). The dissemination of fake news affects both these motivations of a democratic vote. On one hand, the rational choice of projects and the assessment of candidates’ background can be impaired by the overflow of possibly untrue information. On the other hand, untrue facts misrepresent the aforementioned features of candidates – either for or against their image. Besides, disseminating untrue information also reinforces ideological biases in each voter, because the evidence presented confirms ideas, values, and notions inherent to his/her points of view. 1 However, the fake news phenomenon cannot be fully understood based only on the false information element: the mode of dissemination is fundamental to determine the electoral impact. For that reason, social bots and real people share fake news in social media and communication applications such WhatsApp or even e-mail services. Social bots, when pretending to be real people sharing news and presenting opinions, have become a tool to generate a critic mass of sharing news in several online communication vehicles; consequently, they made some facts, either true or not, part of the mainstream narrative. Thus, what makes the current fake news phenomenon different from older forms of disinformation is precisely its massive scale and online circulation.