Brazilian Policy and Actions to Fight Against Fake News: A Discussion Focused on Critical Literacy

Brazilian Policy and Actions to Fight Against Fake News: A Discussion Focused on Critical Literacy

Selma Leticia Capinzaiki Ottonicar
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2543-2.ch009
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Fake news has influenced politics, economy, and society in Brazil. Because of that, some people have developed actions to fight against fake news and disseminate its consequences to people. In order to fight against fake news, individuals need critical literacy to verify the trustfulness of information sources. This chapter has three purposes: It intends to discuss the state of the art of scientific studies of fake news in Brazil. It aims to do documentary research to describe the policies and actions that were created to inform the population about the consequences of fake news. And it aims to show critical literacy concepts and the application of Brazilian standards and indicators of information and media literacy. The methodology is based on documentary research and a systematic literature review. The results demonstrate the journalistic, scientific, and political actions to fight against fake news.
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Fake news has impacted many peoples’ lives, especially people who are connected to social media. Various companies have been hired by organizations to disseminate fake news. A major factor facilitating the spread of fake news is the high level of confidence that people have in information they receive through social media, since they do not always search for information in the news media. Fake news is dangerous to many aspects of contemporary life (Cooke, 2017). Individuals may believe it and change their behaviour accordingly.

Fake news has generated debates in various fields of knowledge, including Information Science, Journalism, Law, Medicine, Political Science, and Business Management. Fake news in Brazil has created new risks in politics and for public health. It affects not only those with no formal education, but also those who are highly educated. The challenge facing researchers is to find ways to combat it.

Furthermore, fake news is not only a problem for developing countries such as Brazil, but also for developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Why do nations with a high level of investment in education still suffer from fake news? Twenty-first century researchers are grappling with this question. Fake news is known to the majority of those who are involved in partisan politics. Political parties around the world use it to smear rival candidates using manipulative and false information (Kellner, 2018; Toynbee, 2019).

Certain candidates have used fake news strategically, in an unethical way, and have succeeded in winning elections. This phenomenon has been remarked upon by various news media organizations, and it is worrisome to them. The aim of this chapter is to present other consequences of fake news outside the realm of politics, such as crimes against healthcare workers and, tragically, even murders of innocent people.

Individuals possess the ability to think critically (Cooke, 2017; Alvermann, 2017; Craig & Wiebe, 2018), and there is a body of studies suggesting that they have their own personal, social, and cultural motivations which lead them to value good-quality information (Cooke, 2017). Media literacy is also fundamental to help students to access and analyze information in an ethical way (Frechette, 2019; Kellner & Share, 2019). Based on those considerations, this proposed book chapter has two purposes:

  • 1.

    To discuss the state of the art of scientific studies of fake news in Brazil.

  • 2.

    To conduct documentary research to describe some of the policies and actions that have been implemented to inform the population about the consequences of fake news.

In this chapter, critical literacy is understood as one of several theories about information and media literacy. Critical literacy concepts are based on Paulo Freire’s ideas. Paulo Freire is well-known throughout the world for changing our understanding of education. He is the author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a book that has changed the relationship between teachers and students. Freire implemented many literacy courses for poor people. The focus of his work was on reducing social inequality by improving access to education.

This theme is relevant to Brazil, since the country is one of the pioneers of critical literacy. Furthermore, this chapter demonstrates how critical literacy is understood in Brazil. This chapter is innovative, since few studies to date have used documentary research to explain fake news in the Brazilian context. Further, the Brazilian educational system needs initiatives to develop critical literacy, so this chapter emphasizes the relevance of critical literacy to citizenship.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Use: The things people do with information. Information use can be learning, decision-making, problem solving, innovation, etc.

Information and Media Literacy Standards: Guidelines and steps to help people to develop critical thinking.

Fake News: Manipulated information to change people’s opinion about a fact.

Critical Literacy: The ability to access, use and evaluate information. It is also known as critical thinking.

Systematic Literature Review: A scientific method used to show the state of the art about a topic.

Documentary Research: Research method based on relevant documents about a topic. It is frequently used in the field of history.

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