Brazil has reached its new lowest point when it comes to attacks faced by journalists covering the Bolsonaro government. On February 11, while testifying in an investigative commission of the Brazilian Congress, the former employee of a company, suspected of having organized a mass message system on WhatsApp on behalf of Jair Bolsonaro's (finally victorious) election campaign in 2018, falsely accused to the journalist who had published this story of “trying to seduce him”.
Hans River, former employee of the digital content agency Yacows, was the main source of an article published in December 2018 in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. The article revealed that the agency had used social security numbers without the knowledge of their owners to make massive SIM card registrations, which allowed the automated WhatsApp plan.
The article's reporter, Patrícia Campos Mello, was the first to reveal the existence of the plan in October 2018, days before the vote that granted the victory to Bolsonaro. Campos Mello also revealed that the plan was funded by a group of businessmen, which would potentially violate Brazil's electoral law, which prohibits corporate campaign donations. At the same time, Campos Mello received multiple threats and his WhatsApp account received attacks.
River's accusations to the commission, which is investigating the dissemination of “fake news” during the 2018 elections, were quickly denied by screenshots of its exchange with Campos Mellos that revealed herself and Folha de S. Paulo. The messages show that River invites the reporter to a concert in which she would play, in addition to documents, audio and photos sent to her to corroborate the story about the plan – although she said during the investigation that she had never given information to Campos Mello .
We publish here reportagem showing all the lies of the CPMI testemunha, com audio, photo, print screens and planilha. Thank you in solidarity with you, and for what to share, for that or insult and to narrative lie not prevalent. Obrigada, https://t.co/Ec3qFRTvnj
– Patricia Campos Mello (@camposmello) February 11, 2020
Former mass firing company reminiscent of investigative commission and insults da Folha reporter
Hans Nascimento gave false information; Eduardo Bolsonaro defended the insults and hioz innuendo.
We have published a story that shows all the lies the witness told the Parliamentary Investigation Commission through photos, screenshots and sheets. We appreciate your solidarity and ask you to spread so that insults and false history do not prevail. Thank you.
River's accusations were backed by President Bolsonaro at a press conference on February 18 when he made a pun on the word “scoop” in Portuguese, which suggested that Campos Mello sought to have a sexual relationship with his source.
– Jeff Nascimento (@jnascim) February 18, 2020
Bolsonaro insults the reporter of Folha de S. Paulo with sexual insinuation. 😒
Following River's testimony, Campos Mello faced another defamatory campaign. Memes have circulated a lot with a prostitute who talks to a boy in a car with the Folha logo attached to his face. Later, a comedian disclosed it (the video will be the subject of investigation by the Supreme Court). An old video also resurfaced in which Campos Mellos states that he is a leftist and has previously voted for the Workers Party.
More than 770 journalists have signed a manifesto in favor of Campos Mello.
Journalists urge Twitter to take action
The Journalists Against Harassment collective appealed to Twitter, where most of the defamations against Campos Mello were published, to take measures to curb the abuse.
In a dialogue with Global Voices, Janaína Garcia, a member of the collective, said that Twitter invited them to an activity in 2018 in which they promised to fight harassment against journalists, but since then no concrete action has been taken.
In 2019, during a conference in Mexico City attended by Garcia, the social network was once again called attention for its lack of actions against harassment. Garcia says:
Prometeram transparência e atitude. Or that we have seen you, since then, but not only, or in the opposite way.
They have promised transparency and action. What we have been seeing since then is quite the opposite.
In 2019, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said they would assume a more aggressive stance against hate symbols and against violent groups:
6 / We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.
– jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) October 14, 2017
5 / We have been working hard in the last three months and today we focus on making several fundamental decisions.
6 / We have decided to assume a more aggressive stance in our rules and how to apply them.
Campos Mello is one of many reporters who have recently faced harassment in Brazil. The Twitter communication team addressed their case in a statement in Portuguese on February 15:
Or Twitter condemns behaviors that are intended to silence voices, and or work to avoid that this is a constant aprimorament. We advance in some fronts, as in technology to proactively identify Tweets that violem as regras, but we know that it has muito to be feito
– Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) February 15, 2020
Twitter has rules that determine what content and behavior is allowed on the platform. In the case of Patricia Campos Mello, measures have been taken against some tweets and accounts that have violated those rules, while there are other contents still under reviewn. (1/2)
Twitter condemns the behaviors that try to silence the voices, and the work that tries to stop this is constantly improved. We have advanced on some fronts such as technology that proactively identifies tweets that violate the standards, but we are aware that there is still much to do.
However, for Garcia, Twitter needs to adopt “more effective and transparent” measures:
(No action is taken) that a message that, for or Twitter, or trafego, or deception eo buzz, adds that from criminal practices like or assedio, a calúnia ea defamação seems to prevail over the adoption of measures for a safe environment – Overlay for mulheres jornalistas. How much do we say about a society in which to impunity of a historical trace, like us: afinal, or does Twitter want to reinforce this trace? What is the concern of democratic strengthening? Ou adotam critics more transparent and effective, ou, for us, in response to u só only: or Twitter is not imported in raising a esgotosfera.
(Not taking action) is a message that says that for Twitter, traffic, compromise and noise, including that generated by criminal practices such as harassment, slander and defamation, seem to prevail over the adoption of measures for a safe environment. especially as regards journalists. We often hear about our society where impunity is a historical trace; After all this, what does Twitter want to accomplish this? What is your concern for democratic strengthening? Either they adopt more effective and transparent criteria or, for us, the answer is only one: Twitter doesn't mind creating a sewer.
Two weeks after River's statement, Twitter considered that some tweets violated the rules of the platform. As reporter Natália Portinari wrote in her account:
or @TwitterBrasil I conclude that I have reported that I denounced by an address addressed à @camposmello violou as regras da platform. for identical comments to the years that fizeram here mtas authorities c / public offices and muito mais influeência. they are also notified, @TwitterBrasil?
– Natália Portinari (@ntlportinari) February 26, 2020
Twitter Brazil concluded that an account that I have reported for harassment directed to Patricia Campos Mello has violated the rules of the platform. For similar comments made by public officials and much more influential here, were you also notified, Twitter Brazil?
Another reporter, Vera Magalhães, who writes for the newspaper Estado de S.Paulo, became the ultimate goal. An account was created with your name and your private information was published, including the school where your children study.
Magalhães reported on February 25 that President Bolsonaro himself sent, through WhatsApp, a video calling supporters to a protest on March 15 against the Brazilian Congress and in favor of his government, which could be considered a “ crime of responsibility ”according to the Supreme Court of Justice Celso de Mello.
The author of this article writes for the Folha de S.Paulo and has signed the Manifesto of which it has been spoken.