Fake news fears as Bolsonaro tries to limit removal of social media content

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has released a measure that would prevent social media companies from removing content, which critics say could influence the fight against disinformation.

The decree aims to fight against “the arbitrary and unreasonable deletion of accounts, profiles and content by social network providers,” said a government statement.

He continued that the measure, which must be approved by Congress, would protect the rights of “users” to freedom of expression “.

The far-right president and his allies have often seen content removed during the pandemic for spreading false information.

The new measure says tech companies need a “just cause” to remove content from social media, according to a press release, without providing further details.

He also said social media providers would be required to notify users, identify the measure taken and explain the content removal decision as well as the challenge procedure, the Brazilian government said.

“This interim measure considerably limits the possibility of restricting abuse on our platforms,” ​​a Facebook spokesperson told AFP.

Alessandro Molon, opposition politician and rapporteur for Brazil’s Internet Bill of Rights, said the presidential decree would hamper “the fight against fake news and hate speech.”

“What (Bolsonaro) wants is to prevent the disinformation and hate speech he and his supporters have spread from continuing to be suppressed by platforms,” Molon said in a tweet.

Bolsonaro signed the decree on the eve of Brazil’s National Day as he calls on his supporters to demonstrate in cities.

He is currently doing poorly in the polls behind left-wing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ahead of the 2022 elections in the country.


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