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Overview of the Socio-Environmental Infodemic

This report was developed by NetLab UFRJ within the scope of the "socio-environmental infodemic" project. The report synthesizes the experience and knowledge we have built through interdisciplinary research into the social implications of propaganda, disinformation and automation across different topics in Brazil since 2016.

Here we present a longitudinal analysis of the socio-environmental debate in the Brazilian digital media ecosystem between January 2021 and November 2022 with the aim of systematizing narratives, content standards, dissemination strategies and the instrumentalization of platforms to propagate disinformation.

Based on the empirical results of our research, we discuss how the socio-environmental disinformation ecosystem in Brazil is structured and operates, how it is able to mobilize the mainstream media, local media portals and junk news sources to direct the flow of narratives in favor of agribusiness. It also functions as a multiplatform, coordinated between influencers, politicians and financiers.

Environmental disinformation is a central theme seen in Brazilian far-right political propaganda. The arguments favour the dismantling of environmental protection and the systematic advance of mining activities in Brazil.

Ultimately, our results indicate the need to (1) provide reliable information to the population on the mining activities which destroy the forest and the indigenous, quilombola and riverside populations; (2) occupy the news desert in the Legal Amazon Zone; (3) increase investment in advertisement in defense of the socio-environmental agenda; and (4) mitigate misinformation and disseminate counter-narratives in mainstream media. The study also identifies opportunities for actions to amplify the visibility of socio-environmental leaders and organizations in defense of social justice.

The report was divided into the following sections: Main results - which brings together the central points of the report; Main actors - which identifies the main politicians and influencers linked to socio-environmental disinformation; Narratives - which summarizes the main narratives present in the far-right digital ecosystem; Platform Landscape - which highlights the specificities of socio-environmental disinformation on each platform individually; News Landscape - which investigates the online media ecosystem in the Legal Amazon; Political Ad Landscape - which maps investment in political ads in the Legal Amazon Zone; as well as two sections with specific topics, namely: War in Ukraine and Elections 2022.

The collections were produced based on keywords and hashtags linked to the socio-environmental debate in Brazil. Data from Twitter, YouTube and sensitive ads available in Meta's library were acquired through the public APIs of the respective platforms. Data relating to Telegram and Whatsapp groups were collected by NetLab from monitoring the groups and public channels of these applications.

The report also includes analysis of data collected from Facebook and Instagram, via CrowdTangle, and TikTok, via the Zeeschuimer API. The study on the information ecosystem in the Legal Amazon Zone used data from news media websites in the region.

Panorama da Infodemia Socioambiental
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