September 19, 2023

Author and affiliation: Filipe Pardal, Chief Operating Officer of the Portuguese fact-checker “Polígrafo”

Reviewer and affiliation: Inès Narciso, special advisor for the Prime Minister (Portugal)


  • According to a study by Iberifier, corruption is the theme that motivates most information manipulation campaigns in Portugal. Misinformation has grown due to the “financial situation and vulnerability of the Portuguese media ecosystem”. Even so, 40% of Portuguese trust journalists, the highest rate in the European Union (Digital News Report PORTUGAL 2023).
  • According to the same Iberifier study, in 2020, in just four months, 68,576 publications containing false content were detected on Facebook in Portugal, in which the origin of COVID-19 appeared correlated with the 5G network. There is more: on the same social network, a group on coronavirus gathered 624,000 members in three days. Between February 2020 and 15 July 2022, 1,037 debunks were produced and published by Polígrafo related to the pandemic.
  • Between 20 February and 15 July 2022, Portuguese fact-checker Polígrafo carried out 238 articles and verifications, “of which 40 are national and 198 are from abroad”. These figures are indicative of the large amount of false content imported. In fact, the disinformation campaigns detected in Portugal are mostly translated or adapted from abroad, such as the case of the virus and the war in Ukraine.
  • Unlike other European countries, no major national deliberate, systematic, and organised disinformation campaign has yet been identified in Portugal. However, social networks are dominated by “smaller and more radicalised” parties, which may promote disinformation campaigns in the future, with considerable impact on the digital environment.
  • The weaknesses of the media sector worldwide, but particularly felt in Portugal, increase vulnerability to mis/disinformation. These are economic (unsustainability of the business model), professional (journalists’ precariousness) and social (exogenous) – increased disinterest, avoidance of news assets, etc.

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This project is funded by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.