Bolsonaro and the Far Right: How Disinformation About COVID-19 Circulates on Facebook in Brazil
This article tackles the circulation of disinformation and compares it to fact-checking links about COVID-19 on Facebook in Brazil. Through a mixed-methods approach, we use disinformation and fact-checking links provided by the International Fact-Checking Network/Poynter, which we looked for in CrowdTangle. Using this data set, we explore (1) which types of public groups/pages spread disinformation and fact-checking content on Facebook; (2) the role of political ideology in this process; and (3) the network dynamics of how disinformation and fact-checking circulate on Facebook. Our results show that disinformation tend to circulate more on political pages/groups aligned with the far right and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, on religious and conspiracy theory pages/groups and alternative (hyperpartisan) media. On the other hand, fact-checking circulates more on leftists’ pages/groups. This implicates that the discussion about COVID-19 in Brazil is influenced by a structure of asymmetric polarization, as disinformation spread is fueled by radicalized far-right groups.