CPI leverages disinformation and discourse of criminalization against MST on social networks

Monday, July 10, 2023
Info Source: 
By Catiane Pereira/Rio de Janeiro – RJ | Edited by Bruno Nomura and Ítalo Rômany Original URL: https://mst.org.br/2023/07/10/cpi-alavanca-desinformacao-e-discurso-de-criminalizacao-contra-mst-nas-redes/

A survey carried out by Lupa (https://lupa.uol.com.br/) shows that there was an increase in publications on Facebook about the MST with the beginning of the CPI, with a lot of uninformative content

The opening of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) in the Chamber of Deputies ignited discussions on social media for and against the movement. A survey carried out by Lupa using the CrowdTangle tool shows that there was an increase in the number of publications on Facebook about the MST with the start of the CPI work — many of them with dis-informational content.

Among the rumors were that a vehicle seized with ammunition in Maranhão was related to the MST and that animals were being stolen from rural properties by members of the movement. The accusation that Minister Alexandre de Moraes, of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), would have tried to boycott the MST CPI by requesting an investigation into its president, Deputy Lieutenant-Colonel Zucco (Republicanos-RS), also had a relevant impact. in far-right channels.

The data also show that the commission mobilized a narrative dispute on Facebook between representatives of the PT (Worker’s Party) and the rightwing PL (Liberal Party), of former President Jair Bolsonaro. On the government side, the speeches highlighted the legitimacy of the movement, while opponents tried to criminalize it.

Duel of narratives

In the week in which the CPI was installed in the Chamber, there were a total of 5.1 thousand publications with content referring to the MST — an increase of 30.7% in relation to the previous week.

There was also an increase in interactions. After the installation of the CPI in the Chamber, in the period between May 17th and May 30th, there were 2.2 million interactions with content related to the CPI and the MST on the social network — in the two previous weeks, between May 3rd and 16th, this index was 924 thousand interactions.

From the day the CPI was installed until the 1st of June, the parliamentarians who dominated the debate were the representatives Alfredo Gaspar (União Brasil-AL), Capitão Alden (PL-BA), Carol de Toni (PL-SC) and Gleisi Hoffmann (PT-PR). Their publications are pointed out in CrowdTangle as the ones that had the most interactions among the profiles that mentioned the CPI on Facebook.

Opponents of the government bet on the narrative that the MST is a criminal association linked to the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT). To this end, they shared speeches by former MST members, denounced the existence of a supposed “ideological indoctrination center” and criticized other members of the CPI who are associated with the social movement.

On the other hand, the president of the PT, Gleisi Hoffmann, stated that the MST was being attacked by the opposition as a way of protecting alleged illicit activities that it attributed to agribusiness. For this, she questioned the nomination of Ricardo Salles (PL-SP), the target of criminal investigations related to his tenure at the Ministry of the Environment, as the commission's rapporteur. She also positioned herself as a defender of the MST by defending the movement's trajectory of struggle.

There were also parliamentarians, such as the state deputy of Rio Grande do Sul Luciana Genro (PSOL-RS) and the councilor of Campinas (SP) Mariana Conti (PSOL-SP), who published posts that totaled more than 370,000 views. They echoed the episodes in which congresswoman Sâmia Bomfim (PSOL-SP) had her microphone cut off by the president and the committee's rapporteur. The deputy was interrupted on at least three occasions at the CPI.

MST CPI dominates debate on networks

Another survey, produced by FGV's School of Communication, Media and Information, in partnership with Lupa, shows that the MST's CPI generated a greater volume of publications by parliamentarians compared to other commissions, such as that of the coup acts of 8 January. In the period from May 13 to 23, there were a total of 147 posts published by parliamentarians on the network, with emphasis on the PL base, with 39 publications, followed by the PT, with 32.

According to the FGV study, at first, parliamentarians from the base of the government dominated the debate on the networks. However, with the presentation of the work plan of the MST's CPI, the opposition managed to balance the game, which focused on Salles' statement that he would sue the Ethics Committee for having been called a "bandit" by Congresswoman Talíria Petrone (PSOL- RJ).

The survey also points to the number of discussions about the MST's CPI on other social networks. On Twitter, the CPMI of 8 de Janeiro and the CPI of the MST motivated the most voluminous discussions in relation to the ongoing parliamentary commissions. On Telegram, the main debate revolved around alleged crimes attributed to the MST, such as a vehicle seized with ammunition in Maranhão that belonged to members of the movement. This information, however, was denied by Lupa.

Information also circulated, also false, that the MST was responsible for the death of 17 cattle on a farm in Santa Catarina. In the early hours of April 18, criminals tried to steal cattle from a farm located in the municipality of Conde (BA). The state Civil Police informed, in a note sent by e-mail to Lupa, that two suspects were located and that there is no evidence of involvement of MST members in the action.

Note: This content is part of the Media and Democracy project, produced by the School of Communication, Media and Information of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV ECMI) in partnership with Lupa. The initiative is funded by the European Union.