Friday, November 02, 2018

Evangelicals and tech nerds will be the death of us

Given that there is much concern being expressed that Brazilian President Bolsonaro will be giving companies the go-ahead to bulldoze and mine the Amazon rainforest, and his support base amongst Evangelicals is probably the only religious group n the world that refuses to take climate change seriously, it's disturbing that (once again) the misuse of social media for political lies featured so heavily in the election.  As in India, where it has been blamed for riots and deaths by spreading false rumour, WhatsApp is getting a lot of the blame:
...Aos Fatos, the fact-checking organization that I lead, crowdsourced from over 6,000 WhatsApp users more than 700 false or misleading posts being shared on the app. These rumors distorted at least four key categories of information: statements by political candidates, news of electronic voting and legislation, the nature of protests and the outcomes of opinion polls. These messages were largely aimed at right-leaning political groups, Catholic and evangelical churches, trade and business associations, and military groups.
There were widespread false reports, for example, of how the Venezuelan government hacked Brazil’s electronic voting system and of how Bolsonaro’s rival, Haddad, handed out baby bottles with penis-shaped tops at schools to combat homophobia. One of Bolsonaro’s own sons, Flávio, helped spread such rumors. On Oct. 7, the day of the first round of presidential voting, he tweeted a video that had already been zinging around WhatsApp falsely claiming that the Brazilian voting system was rigged to automatically give all votes to Haddad. When the video was later debunked, Flávio subsequently deleted his tweet, but the damage was done. At least 800,000 people shared the video on Facebook and Twitter. Because of encryption, however, we don’t know how many of WhatsApp’s 120 million active users in Brazil saw it.
That's awful.

The barely human looking (or acting) Zuckerberg is helping bring down the planet while making
squillions.   Who would have guessed 20 years ago that a combination of Evangelicals, tech nerds (and libertarians) would be responsible for global environmental catastrophe?

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