This study analyzed posts with accusations of fraud in electronic voting machines and defense of printed auditable votes published on Facebook between November 2020 and January 2022. We sought to find the most frequent and popular posts, actors and links in terms of interactions over these 15 months, in another monitoring effort of the origins and dynamics of mobilization of the agenda that causes electoral mistrust and the questioning of election results on social media. This is the third research report investigating allegations of fraud in electronic voting machines developed by the project Digitalization and Democracy in Brazil, a partnership between FGV DAPP and the German Embassy in Brasília.
Electronic voting machine fraud. Electoral disinformation. Facebook. Brazil.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
- Between November 2020 and January 2022, there were 394,370 posts about electronic voting machine fraud and auditable printed votes, published by 27,840 accounts, including pages, personal profiles and public groups. These publications attracted more than 111 million interactions.
- The messages appeared in each of the 15 months, with higher frequency in November 2020, the occasion of the United States presidential race and the municipal elections in Brazil, as well as in July and August 2021, in the context of the public discussion about Bill No. 135/2019 (the Printed Vote Bill) and the statements made by Jair Bolsonaro questioning the security of voting in past races and for the 2022 elections. The average was 888 posts per day, and the record of publications happened on August 10, 2021, with 10,619 messages posted on the platform.
- The year 2021 was marked by an intense level of activity of groups and pages supporting printed votes, with the highest number of posts and the highest average interactions per account since 2014, indicating a large capacity of mobilization. Four months in 2021 had a higher average of interactions per post compared to October 2018, which was the peak year for that topic on social media. These numbers are strong indications that the questioning of election results has been growing in quantity and interaction on Facebook.
- There were twelve accounts concentrating the highest volume of interactions (each having 1 million or higher) on Facebook posts about electronic voting machine fraud and printed votes, most of which were elected representatives, including President Jair Bolsonaro, the main voice in the cause. However, among those with the highest level of influence in the topic, the congresswoman Carla Zambelli (PSL-SP) discussed the subject the most, with 1,576 publications in 15 months.
- In total, 23 accounts posted more than one thousand times about topics related to electoral mistrust on Facebook. Jair Bolsonaro was frequently mentioned in all these public pages and groups (whether to support or oppose him), particularly “Movimento Brasil”, with 11,856 posts, and “Bolsonaro 2022 ”, with 7,413 posts. Hundreds of other similar accounts also had high rate of publications about these topics.
- Forty posts arguing that there was fraud in the electronic voting machine were the most popular, generating 6,809,193 interactions. Among the 20 most popular messages in this subgroup, 13 (32.5%) were made by Jair Bolsonaro’s page, attracting almost half of the interactions (3,227,981, or 47%).
- More than 130 thousand posts contained internal and external links on Facebook. This type of content represented 23.9% of the interactions. These links circulated for up to 435 days. Most of the external links with the most interactions called for a public consultation of a legislative recommendation to implement 100% printed voting, as well as content for the mobilization about the Printed Vote Bill – this Senate link was present in 8,412 publications on Facebook.