07 Sep 2021, 09:21

Bolsonaro issues decree limiting social media moderation

BRASILIA, Sept 7, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued

a decree Monday that changes the rules of content moderation on social media,
a move that critics argue could hinder the fight against disinformation.

   The decree goes into effect immediately but must be ratified by Congress
in order to become law. It aims to combat "the arbitrary and unjust deletion
of accounts, profiles and content by providers," the federal communications
secretariat said.

   Far-right leader Bolsonaro, who has himself had content removed from his
social media accounts for spreading disinformation about Covid-19, says that
the suspension or removal of accounts and content that various platforms have
subjected him and some of his supporters to is "censorship."

   The new provision establishes a series of hypotheses for which there would
be "just cause" to remove content or suspend users -- such as committing
crimes or inciting violence -- and imposes new rules for platforms to do so.

   "This provisional measure significantly hinders our ability to limit abuse
on our platforms," a Facebook spokesperson told AFP. "We agree with legal
experts and specialists who view the measure as a violation of constitutional

   Alessandro Molon, an opposition politician and rapporteur of Brazil's bill
of rights for the internet (MCI), said he was preparing legal action to
overturn the presidential decree.

   "Its objective is not to protect freedom of expression, the MCI already
does that," Molon said. "What (Bolsonaro) wants is to prevent the
disinformation and hate speech that he and his supporters disseminate from
continuing to be removed from the platforms."

   Bolsonaro announced the decree on the eve of Brazil's Independence Day,
when his supporters are set to take to the streets of major cities throughout
the country.

   Tensions are running high, as anti-Bolsonaro protests have been planned in
the same cities, and clashes between the groups could occur.

   With polls putting Bolsonaro on track to lose badly to leftist ex-leader
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in next year's presidential elections, the ex-army
captain is hoping to use the rally to energize his supporters.


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