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Fact Check: Instagram posts – US election deniers spread false claims about Brazil vote

U.S. election deniers who spread the falsehood that the 2020 presidential election was stolen are now making similarly baseless claims about  the Oct. 30 presidential election in Brazil.

An Instagram post shared a Nov. 1 headline that said Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro would hold a press conference to “announce a military audit of Brazil’s controversial election” and “may arrest criminal judges.” The headline was from The Gateway Pundit, a conservative website that has spread U.S. election misinformation. 

The Instagram post’s caption said, “We watched a successful coup unfold from 2016 – 2020 with no consequences. We did not invoke the Insurrection Act but it appears that Brazil may invoke their version of it.”

Another Instagram post shared the same headline from The Gateway Pundit with a caption that said, “Brazil is doing what we should have done in 2020.” 

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The Gateway Pundit headline and accompanying story claimed to know that Bolsonaro would challenge the election results during a Nov. 1 press conference, but none of its claims came to fruition.

Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court, which runs the nation’s elections, announced the voting results Oct. 30 and declared former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva the winner. News agencies reported Lula won with 50.9% of the vote (60.3 million) to Bolsonaro’s 49.1% (58.2 million).

After the vote, the head of the court, Alexandre de Moraes, called Lula and Bolsonaro to inform them of the result, according to an Oct. 31 press release published by the court. Based on the phone call, de Moraes concluded that there was no risk of a challenge of the results, which were official and had been accepted by the candidates, and that the winner would take office Jan. 1.

But The Gateway Pundit article said Bolsonaro “may invoke the Constitution to demand the military hold an audit of the impossible results” and “may also jail the radical leftist court justices who made it a crime for populist party to campaign effectively.” 

“Bolsonaro is not going quietly,” the article said. “He is fighting back.”

Bolsonaro had repeatedly questioned the integrity of the election in the months leading up to it, and was silent for almost two days following the announcement of the result, raising concerns he might be planning to contest them. Far-right activists who support Bolsonaro took to the streets in nationwide protests, demanding a military coup.

On Nov. 2, Bolsonaro gave a short speech in which he did not concede the election but also did not rebut the results, according to reports by news agencies. However, following the speech, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Ciro Nogueira, said the president had authorized him to begin the transition of power to the next administration.

Brazil’s Supreme Court then issued a statement saying that Bolsonaro had, in allowing the start of the transition, “recognized the final result of the election.”

The Gateway Pundit story also questioned the integrity of the vote in Brazil, saying, “Bolsonaro was winning the election up to a certain point and then every ballot drop was won by the socialist candidate,” referring to Lula, and that conservatives “cleaned house” in smaller races, but “Bolsonaro somehow lost the presidency.”

Independent electoral observers from the Lusophone Commonwealth, which verifies elections in Portuguese-speaking countries, declared the two rounds of the Brazilian election to have complied with Brazilian and international law, according to their final report and a press release published by the Supreme Electoral Court.

The observers also said that Brazil’s electronic voting machines were “secure, trustworthy, and credible.”

Our ruling

An Instagram post shared a headline from The Gateway Pundit that said Bolsonaro would hold a press conference to “announce a military audit of Brazil’s controversial election, and may arrest criminal judges.” 

Bolsonaro did none of that in his first public remarks following his defeat. Instead, he authorized his staff to initiate the peaceful transition of power to the incoming administration. 

Independent electoral observers said the Brazilian vote was legal and fair.

We rate the post False.

Source: PolitiFact.