Bolsonaro has signed a decree that will make it more difficult to remove content from social media

Bolsonaro has signed a decree that will make it more difficult to remove content from social media

In the name of freedom of expression, the Brazilian president signed a decree that, as a Facebook spokesperson explains, will limit social efforts to remove posts containing disinformation

Photo: Evaristo Sa for AFP via Getty Images Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has signed a decree with immediate effect amending the rules on content moderation of online platforms with the aim of countering "the arbitrary and unjustified cancellation of accounts, profiles and content by suppliers".

The decree, which has yet to be ratified by Congress, aims according to the government to "clarify" the policies of social media companies, which would be required to inform users of the measure adopted and explain the decision to remove the contents, as well as the procedure for contesting it. In fact, the decree provides for the right to republish prohibited content to protect "freedom of speech".

In recent months, the Brazilian president had suffered the removal of many contents from his official Twitter and Facebook accounts due to false information on covid-19 and possible treatments. YouTube also removed dozens of videos from Bolsonaro's channel that violated his policies. In some of these, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin were proposed as solutions to treat the new coronavirus.

The president has called the deletion of his posts and those of some of his supporters "censorship", inviting them to use Telegram and Parler. The new Bolsonaro provision now wants to make work more difficult for platforms that will be able to delete content and suspend profiles only for "just cause".

After the enactment of the decree, a spokesperson for Facebook commented: "This provisional measure significantly limits the possibility of combating abuses on our platforms". Bolsonaro's move comes at a time when major social networks and sites like YouTube are already having a hard time removing fake or unverified news about covid-19 and vaccines, as some reports also show.

Opposition MP Alessandro Molon said President Bolsonaro's aim "is not to protect freedom of expression, but to prevent the disinformation and hate speech he and his supporters spread from continuing to be removed from public platforms. ”.

The announcement of the decree comes on the eve of major pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations expected throughout Brazil to coincide with Independence Day. Supporters of the president will protest against Congress and the country's Supreme Court, which last month added Bolsonaro's name to the list of people under investigation for allegedly producing disinformation.

Bolsonaro is severely criticized on one side of Brazilian public opinion for its handling of the pandemic, which made Brazil one of the countries to have suffered the worst consequences. The president is currently behind in the polls compared to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, his challenger in the 2022 elections.

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