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Disinformation and propaganda can be understood as economic activities associated with the so-called influence industry. The online disinformation ecosystem depends on the precarious conditions of production and regulation of digital communication, since the functioning of recommendation systems and content distribution on digital platforms not only allows, but also promotes and monetizes criminal content of various types, seeing as they manage audiences and interactions. The lack of effective mechanisms to protect users makes these platforms conducive environments for the promotion of scams, fraud and various types of crimes and manipulation, often with financial incentives.


Advertising is the basis of the business model of digital platforms and plays a central role in the strategy of permanent disinformation campaigns, which use microtargeting, repetition and amplification of conspiratorial, denialist and hyper-partisan narratives. Such campaigns may involve coordinated interactions between private sector agents, political actors, and organizations from society and the State, which benefit the platforms themselves and mobilize unstable markets producing content circulating online.

In this line of research, we seek to gather systematic evidence about the economic and political relationships that underpin the online disinformation industry. We seek to contribute with critical and empirical approaches to respond to the challenges of investigating these new propaganda and manipulation strategies. The projects in this line of research are dedicated to identifying what the sources of financing and monetization of content in disinformation campaigns on social media and junk news sites are, who are the actors and organizations involved, and what are the tactics of programmatic advertising and commercial manipulation of the socio-technical conditions of the internet in Brazil.



The objective of this project is to study the strategies of production, coordination and online dissemination of disinformation in Brazil. For this, we analyze the fundamental aspects of the political economy of junk news sites, such as the owners, the means of financing and the multiplatform performance of these portals.

EcoJunk: Mapping Junk News Sites in the Brazilian Digital Media Ecosystem

Anti-press disinformation: cross-platform analysis of traditional media smear campaigns in Brazil

Delegitimizing traditional media outlets to vie for influence on public opinion is a key strategy in online disinformation campaigns, exploiting historical tensions between press, politics and society. We analyze the main narratives, actors involved and impacts of this phenomenon.

Online disinformation funding: Paid ads and monetization of disinformation campaigns

Digital advertising is at the heart of the business model of the world's largest media and technology companies. This project analyzes possibilities and limitations in the transparency and auditing of this content, and investigates the harmful use of digital advertising to promote scams, fraud and disinformation campaigns.

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