Discursive strategies for disinformation on WhatsApp and Twitter during the 2018 Brazilian presidential election

  • Raquel Recuero Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPEL) and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • Felipe Soares UFRGS (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul)
  • Otávio Vinhas University College Dublin
Keywords: Discourse, Disinformation, Social Media, Politics

Abstract

This paper aims to analyze and compare the discursive strategies used to spread and legitimate disinformation on Twitter and WhatsApp during the 2018 Brazilian presidential election. Our case study is the disinformation campaign used to discredit the electronic ballot that was used for the election. In this paper, we use a mixed methods approach that combined critical discourse analysis and a quantitative aggregate approach to discuss a dataset of 53 original tweets and 54 original WhatsApp messages. We focused on identifying the most used strategies in each platform. Our results show that: (1) messages on both platforms used structural strategies to portray urgency and create a negative emotional framing; (2) tweets often framed disinformation as a “rational” explanation; and, (3) while WhatsApp messages frequently relied on authorities and shared conspiracy theories, spreading less truthful stories than tweets.

Author Biographies

Raquel Recuero, Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPEL) and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

(Ph.D. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul) is a professor at both Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPEL) and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and a researcher for CNPq (National Research Council) and the MIDIARS (Media, Discourse and Social Networks) research lab coordinator. Her research interests include discourse, political conversations, gender, violence, social networks and social media.

Felipe Soares, UFRGS (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul)

(Ph.D. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul) is a researcher at the MIDIARS research lab. His research interests include social network analysis, public sphere and disinformation.

Otávio Vinhas, University College Dublin

Ph.D. student in information and communication studies at University College Dublin. He is a researcher at the MIDIARS research lab. His research interests include social networks, misinformation and sociocybernetics.

Published
2020-12-21
How to Cite
Recuero, R., Soares, F., & Vinhas, O. (2020). Discursive strategies for disinformation on WhatsApp and Twitter during the 2018 Brazilian presidential election. First Monday, 26(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i1.10551