TCU prohibits government propaganda in media with fake news – 11/24/2022 – Poder

The TCU (Tribunal de Contas da União) determined that federal government bodies prohibit, in contracts under their responsibility, the directing of advertising campaign resources to platforms, channels and media that relate to illegal activities and fake news.

The decision was taken during a plenary trial of the court this Wednesday (24), in a process that deals with evidence of irregularities in the transmission of campaigns sponsored by the Union. The rapporteur is Minister Vital do Rêgo.

The court also determined that the Ministry of Communications publish, within 30 days, guidance on the subject to all bodies and entities of the federal public administration.

The norm must determine that, in the contracts entered into with advertising agencies, clauses are foreseen that encourage the identification of false news and that promote the fight against the transmission of advertising campaigns in digital media associated with fake news.

The possibility of creating pre-established parameters for the campaigns should also be evaluated, if the communication takes place using Google AdSense (Google’s advertising service).

In this case, according to the TCU, there must be a ban on advertising campaigns on digital media that mention certain keywords, which must be selected taking into account the news already identified as false in the “Fake News Check Panel” organized by the CNJ (National Council of Justice).

The TCU determined that the Ministry of Communications must define, within 90 days, guidelines with guidelines for monitoring contracts signed with advertising agencies regarding the adherence of sites that serve campaign ads to the criteria now defined.

The measure was taken after a representation filed by the deputy attorney general of the Public Ministry with the TCU, Lucas Rocha Furtado.

He asked the court to analyze the issue based on a report published by Sheetin May 2020, which stated that the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) had advertised about the pension reform on fake news, jogo do bicho, children’s sites, in Russian and on a YouTube channel that promotes the current president of the Republic.

The information is contained in spreadsheets sent by Secom (Special Secretariat for Communication of the Presidency) by determination of the CGU (Comptroller General of the Union), based on a request through the Citizen Information Service.

Secom hires advertising agencies that buy spaces through Google AdSense to run campaigns on websites, YouTube channels and mobile apps.

The advertiser chooses what kind of public he wants to reach, what types of sites he doesn’t want his campaign to run on and which keywords should be banned. Then Google distributes the ads to sites or YouTube channels that meet the criteria set by the advertiser.

The amount paid by Secom is split between Google and the website or YouTube channel. Google’s percentages vary—generally from 40% to 20%, depending on the negotiation between the sites and the platform. In the end, the advertiser receives a report on all his ads, where they were served, how many impressions and other data.

Minister Vital do Rêgo had already vetoed, on a preliminary basis in 2020, the placement of government advertisements on illegal websites. The current collegiate decision, with a definitive nature, sets rules and deadlines and includes the exclusion of sites associated with the dissemination of fake news.

Secom alleged to the TCU, during the process, that it is up to the advertising agencies to distribute government advertising, through the hiring made by them of the means and vehicles of dissemination.

He also stated that the Google AdSense digital advertising service, by focusing on the process of choosing disclosure based on the profile of the target audience, can expand it to a range of pages and contents that do not necessarily have a thematic correlation with the object of the publicity campaign.

Google, contrary to what Secom claims, clarified to the court that it is possible to segment and control the sites and content where a given campaign will be served.

He said that it is feasible for the advertiser to choose the context in which the ads will be displayed and the characteristics of the specific audience they want to reach. Regarding control, he added that the advertiser has permanent and real-time access to all exhibition locations.

According to the reporting minister, “in short, the federal government communication agency seeks to exempt itself from the attributions that would be expected of it, insofar as it was the contractor and manager of federal public resources, in an attempt to impute to the agencies of advertising contractors the sole responsibility for running the campaigns”.

“In fact, there is no way to admit that public resources, so scarce in this time of high expenses with the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, are poured to finance the types of websites, blogs and portals mentioned. The TCU, as a control body , cannot act with lukewarmness in the face of the situation now pointed out, under the risk of, finally, collaborating with it”, said Vital.

wanted by SheetSecom did not respond.

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