The Power to Elect Brazil

The POWER TO ELECT is a project to check policy information circulating through WhatsApp during the campaign period of the 2018 elections.

Unlike other fact-checking initiatives, THE POWER TO ELECT uses WhatsApp not only as a source of information to be checked, but also as a content distribution channel. The final product of the checks are gifs and audios sent by the platform, with the purpose of returning to current users with verified information in the same vehicle in which it originally circulated. To participate, just send a current or a message with the phrase “I want to participate” to the number (21) 981405658.

This Chicas Poderosas’ project started in the Colombian elections (Aug 2017) and was then taken to Mexico, as well as being present in the coverage of the Venezuelan crisis. Brazil is the fourth country to join the initiative.

The challenge

Every ten WhatsApp users in the world, one is in Brazil. By 2017 (latest data available), the messaging application had 120 million active users in the country and 1.5 billion in the world. During the 2018 truckers’ strike, the platform showed its mobilizing power – and also its potential for misinformation. It is worrying that, during the campaign, this potential will be harnessed by groups that adopt strategies of fear and manipulation, seeking to misinform, sow doubts and increase the general uncertainty in an already polarized country. The development of tools to monitor platforms with Facebook and Twitter has been widely explored in recent years. WhatsApp, however, is a platform that, due to end-to-end encryption and the closing of its API, makes the process more complex.

It is difficult to get metrics on the origin and scope of viral messages that circulate on the platform. Some initiatives include WhatsApp as a means of collecting currents for verification, but collaborative check templates are scarce on this platform and it is rare to exploit their visual potential to send verified messages efficiently.

In this sense, THE POWER TO ELECT is a pioneer in the use of WhatsApp as the main means of communication between the user and the journalist.

The organization

Created in 2013 by the Portuguese Mariana Santos, Chicas Poderosas aims to increase the number of women who work in and lead digital media innovation in Latin America and thus promote diversity in journalism. Through events, meetings and mentoring, Chicas Poderosas intends to involve more women in the production of interactive content and integration of new tools in essays.

Since its launch, Chicas Poderosas has trained about 5,000 women in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, the United States (Stanford University) and The 19 Million Project in Rome.

Since 2013, the organization has been disseminating knowledge and promoting teamwork and horizons, believing that collaboration between women can change the writing environment and inspire them to believe in themselves. One of your primary goals is to strengthen this proactive attitude and entrepreneurial spirit. But Chicas Poderosas is not an organization that discriminates – men are also very welcome.

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