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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

Intelligence and counterintelligence: Fake news in the coronavirus crisis

Posted on 26th March 2020 at 14:58pm

Dr Harrysson Luiz Da Silva describes a worrying trend in that fake news is being circulated among official channels.

Brazil, the state of Santa Catarina and many municipalities in Santa Catarina have another enemy that is competing with the coronavirus, and is creating many problems, among them, the credibility of public institutions and their management. We are talking about Fake News.

The National System of Protection and Civil Defence in Brazil is structured in terms of common (administrative) and competing (legislative) competences across three areas: union, states and municipalities. Up until now, these areas have experienced communication problems among themselves, let alone in the context of extreme events.

An extreme situation, by its very nature, requires quick responses. If there are already communication problems under normal operating conditions, information control will be even more lacking during a crisis.

Thus, due to the urgency of decision-making, fake news reports are currently circulating among public institutions about fictitious operational procedures; these are contributing towards creating problems and discontinuity of activities in these contexts.

One example was when information announcing that that the state would distribute basic food parcels to families at socioeconomic risk, such as the self-employed and casual workers, was disseminated across an exclusive official channel for municipal managers of civil defence forces. In the end, this was exposed as another fake news item that had infiltrated the official system

Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to implement intelligence and counterintelligence systems, not only for decision-making, as the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) already does, but to act decisively with the entire Brazilian population and public institutions to mitigate this problem.

Dr Harrysson Luiz Da Silva, Associate Professor I of the Department of Geosciences of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, UFSC, Professor of the Professional Master's Course in Natural Disasters, UFSC

Source: Elton Cunha, Civil Defense of the Municipality of Barra Velha, Santa Catarina, Brazil


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