OCANAL - 09/15/2023

By Writing Team
Posted in September 15, 2023

The Judiciary’s role in combating fake news during the electoral period made it clear that there are total technological and legal conditions for removing inappropriate content from platforms controlled by the so-called big techs, technology giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Meta.

The Brazilian case serves as an example for other countries, according to experts participating in the seminar “Combating Disinformation and Defending Democracy” at the Supreme Federal Court (STF) on Thursday (14).

“Fake news destroys and kills. In the United States, there was a president who said it was better to ingest detergent than to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In the subsequent days, between 50 and 60 people were hospitalized with detergent poisoning,” recalled José Levi, the Secretary-General of the Superior Electoral Court’s presidency.

He participated in the panel “Strengthening the justice system and its institutions to combat disinformation.”

According to the secretary, “there are clear technological and constitutional conditions to address fake news,” adding that this was demonstrated during the elections when platforms managed to remove such content within 15 minutes.

A Matter of Civility

“Pedophilia and copyright violations are already removed even before the first like. So why couldn’t toxic content like that of Nazism, fascism, homophobia, transphobia, coup d’état, attacks on democracy, or hate speech be removed? It can. It’s a matter of training the algorithm, especially for the big techs to do it voluntarily. It’s a matter of civility,” argued Levi.

The secretary considered it positive for these platforms to have self-regulation and denied that there was any form of judicial censorship during the elections.

“In the 2022 elections, one of the platforms reported having spontaneously deleted more than 65,000 posts. During the same period, it complied with about 300 to 350 judicial orders to remove content. In other words, less than 0.5% of the total removed. So, it’s fake news to claim there was judicial censorship. What happened was self-control by the platform, without prejudice to subsequent judicial decisions,” he clarified.

Big Techs

Any Schiffrin, a media regulation expert from Columbia University in the United States, argues that big techs need to pay for news. “They make billions of dollars a year but don’t pay the taxes they should or the content they use. Unfortunately, due to the power and lobbying they have, our government is afraid to regulate them,” the expert said.

She added that the Brazilian initiative to seek legal ways for these major platforms to pay for content is “very important because it can set an example for the world.” Anya also noted that artificial intelligence mechanisms like ChatGPT are using various content and not paying for it.

“So, they’re stealing information. But Brazil has a good opportunity now because these artificial intelligence mechanisms need quality information in Portuguese and other languages, not just English,” she said.

“So, this is the time to take money from them. They will certainly claim that they’ll lose money with it. But it’s a billion-dollar project,” she warned, suggesting that authorities, advertisers, and journalists unite to make a payment system for these platforms feasible.

Information and opinions are the responsibility of Agência Brasil – EBC.