O Globo Brazil’s most prominent national newspaper, published an op-ed on Wednesday calling for America’s Big Tech platforms to ban President Jair Bolsonaro from social media, much as they banned Donald Trump when he was the sitting president of the United States.
The Globo column noted some of Bolsonaro’s posts have already been removed from social media platforms, including at least 15 of his YouTube videos, and he has been accused of violating Facebook’s “guidelines” for discussing the Wuhan coronavirus “dozens of times,” so full deplatforming should be the next step.
Globo swept aside concerns about free speech and the slippery slope to censorship by arguing Bolsonaro is a “serial repeat offender” and a “big influencer” with millions of followers and political authority, so he can be treated more harshly than “ordinary citizens.” The editors seemed unaware that huge numbers of ordinary citizens are being censored by Big Tech already – the free world is not teetering at the top of that particular slippery slope, but rapidly approaching the bottom.
Globo not only wanted Bolsonaro deplatformed immediately, but was angry that he was not banned from social media long ago.
“This should have happened by now. [Tech companies] cannot wait for the moment when we have our own Congressional invasion to act,” the op-ed concluded, referring to the January 6 incident at the U.S. Capitol.
The Brazilian Senate committee investigating Bolsonaro’s response to the coronavirus pandemic issued its final report on Wednesday, and one of its recommendations was to ban him from all social media platforms.
In response to the committee’s recommendation, Bolsonaro on Wednesday asked the Brazilian Supreme Court to intervene and prevent his social media accounts from being shut down. He also wants the court to block the committee’s request for all of his social media activity and content.
Bolsonaro is standing for re-election in 2022 and has been running well behind in the polls, so banning him from social media would clearly have a major negative impact on his electoral prospects. Facebook bans have affected Brazilian politics before – in 2018, just days before the presidential runoff election, the social media company shut down 43 pro-Bolsonaro accounts linked to a Brazilian marketing group for allegedly violating its spamming policies.
In 2020, Facebook complied with an order from the Brazilian Supreme Court to block the accounts of a dozen Bolsonaro allies accused of spreading false information about judges. Facebook objected to the order, calling it “extreme” and threatening to free speech.