President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil temporarily bans social media companies from removing certain content, including his claims that the only way he will lose next yearde elections is like the vote is rigged — one of the most important steps by a democratic elected leader to control what can be said on the Internet.
The new social media rules, released this week and met immediate effect, the first time a national government has prevented internet companies from down content that violates them rules, according to internet law experts and officials from tech businesses. And they come at a precarious time for Brazil.
Mr Bolsonaro has used social media like a megaphone to build his political movement and the pick up of the president’s office. utilities, with polls showing he would lose the presidential election if they were held today, he is using sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to try undermine legitimacy of the vote, according to the script of his closest ally, former President Donald J. Trump. On Tuesday, Mr Bolsonaro repeated his claims over the elections for thousands of supporters in two cities as part of nationwide demonstrations on Brazil Independence Day.
Below the new policy, tech companies can only delete posts if they relate to certain topics outlined in the measure, such as nudity, drugs and violence, of if they encourage crime of violate copyrights; to take down others, they must get a court order. That suggests that, in Brazil, tech companies could easily remove a nude photo, but lies over not the coronavirus. The pandemic has been an important topic of disinformation under Mr Bolsonaro, with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all have removed videos from him die pushed unproven drugs as the coronavirus heals.
“You can only imagine how hard it would be for An big platform to get a court order for each piece of disinformation die find them,” says Carlos Affonso Souza, a law professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
Mr Affonso Souza said companies had 30 days to: update their policy before facing Fines.
social media giants denounced the new rules, saying they would allow harmful information to spread. Facebook and YouTube said they hadn’t yet changed how they treat content in Brazil. Twitter declined say.
Brazil’s new internet rules are the latest attempt in a bigger fight die feed conservatives against Silicone Valley. Politicians and experts on the right have argued that tech companies are censor conservative vote, and in increasingly they have pushed laws that make it more difficult for social networking for messages of remove accounts from their sites.
Florida passed a law in Is that allowed? great internet companies die ban any political candidate from their sites, although a federal judge blocked a month later. The governor of Texas is expected to soon sign a similar bill. Other countries have proposed similar legislation, but die from Brazil new policy turned out to be the most important measure on An national level.
In a Twitter post, mr. Bolsonaros government said the policy “prohibits the removal” of content that’s allowed result in any kind of ‘censorship of political, ideological, scientific, artistic of religious order.’”
In addition to limiting which species of messages die companies can post down, the rules can also require tech companies to justify removal of each post of an account, even die met the protected exceptions. The government can then force the companies to restore the post of account if it decides that the deletion was inappropriate.
Facebook said the “measure represents a significant impediment to our” ability to limit abuse on our platforms” and that the company agrees to “with legal experts and specialists who view the measure as a violation of constitutional rights.”
Twitter said the policy transforms existing internet legislation in Brazil, “and also undermines values and consensus” die it was built Bee.”
YouTube said it was still analyzing the law before making one changes. “We keep making clear the importance of our policies and the risks for our users and creators if we can’t enforce them,” the company said.
It was unclear how the measure would affect content outside of Brazil.
As far-reaching as they are, the new rules probably won’t last, according to political and legal analysts who follow Brazil. Mr. Bolsonaro issued them as a so-called interim measure, a type of emergency order intended to deal with urgent situations. Such measures expire in 120 days if the Brazilian Congress doesn’t make them permanent. Some members of have a congress already publicly opposed the measure and five political parties and a Brazilian senator have filed lawsuits with the Supreme Court of the Nation die it tries to block.
But Mr Bolsonaro told supporters at a rally on Tuesday that he made statements from one High Council justice who has helped lead investigations into Mr Bolsonaro’s government, alarming observers around the world that the president is threatening Brazilian democracy.
Mr Affonso Souza, the law professor, said the country’s Supreme Court could strike? down the measure before internet companies had to comply, but argued that set a dangerous precedent.
The president, he said, had a… way until ensure die misinformation “stays” up on internet and make it easier for to spread it.”
Mr Bolsonaro has taken other steps to make online disinformation more difficult to fight. This month, for he vetoed over part of An national-security law die would have set criminal to punish for people found guilty of organizing massive disinformation campaigns.
Matthew Taylor, director of the Brazil research initiative at American University, said that Mr. Bolsonaro was… using the Internet policy to rally and distract his supporters from scandals surrounding his treatment of the pandemic and its collisions with the courts. Bolsonaro has portrayed this moment as crucial to fate of his political movement.
“The timing was no mistakesaid Mr Taylor: of the policy, die was issued on Eve of protests which Mr Bolsonaro had hoped would shake up up support for his controversial presidency. “This is playing for the domestic audience of Bolsonaro.”
the brazilian government said in to be post on Twitter that it is “taking the” global lead in defend freedom of expression on social networking and protecting the law of burgers to freedom of thought and expression.” The government did not respond to requests for further comment.
Mr Bolsonaro has alarmed many sectors of Brazil in last months with are increasingly authoritarian responses to a series of political crises, including a rapidly growing pandemic, economic tribulations, judicial investigations into him and his family, and declining poll numbers. He has the electronic voting in Brazil attacked system if An reason to discount the upcoming elections, and he recently told his supporters that there are only three results for his presidency: he will be re-elected, jailed of murdered.
In July, YouTube removed 15 of The videos of mr. Bolsonaro for spreading misinformation over the coronavirus. And late last month, YouTube said that, by order of a Brazilian court, stopped payments to 14 pro-Bolsonaro channels die had spread false information as regards next yearde presidential elections.
The Brazilian Supreme Court has also has investigated disinformation operations in the country. Mr Bolsonaro became a target of die to investigate last month, and several of his allies have been interrogated of held.
This week, Jason Miller, An former adviser to Mr Trump, was detained for three hours at an airport in Brasília, the capital of the country where he had traveled for An conservative political conference. In an interview, Mr Miller said authorities told him they were questioning him as part of it of an investigation by the Supreme Court. “It was ridiculous,” he said. “The real shows how a lot of freedom of speech is under attack in the country of Brazil.”
mr. Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist who won the presidential elections in 2018 has long been compared met mr. Trump. His recent actions — including the claims of a rigged election, skepticism of the coronavirus and complaints over Big Tech censorship — have magnified the similarities.
Mr Trump lost his speaker because of this year when tech businesses kicked him off their sites for comments he made related to the storming of the United States Capitol in January.
Lately, Mr. Bolsonaro has been trying to: reduce his dependence on the major tech businesses. On Monday, he insisted: people on Twitter and Facebook to follow it on Telegram, a messaging service with An more hands-off to approach content.
Daphne Keller, who teaches internet law at Stanford University, said: conservative politicians have proposed laws like the brazilian size in the United States, Poland and Mexico, but die hadn’t gone through.
“If platforms have to carry everything that is legal, they will change in terrible cesspools die not… one want use’ said Mrs. Keller. “It’s a mechanism” for the government show their thumbs up on the scales to say what is seen on the Internet.”
Lis Moriconi contributed reporting.
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