Elon Musk’s Twitter has been a breeding ground for Brazilian fascists

On Sunday, January 8th, what seemed to be happening happened. Supporters of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who were beaten at the ballot box, attacked the places of power, especially in Brazil, before he was expelled from the country. The images are reminiscent of the invasion of the Capitol by Trumpist packs in the United States on January 6, 2021.

According to Rest of the World, the new Twitter that Elon Musk has promoted since acquiring the platform is the Wild West of Free Speech, where moderation appears to be kept to a bare minimum (or designed to suit the boss’s wishes). , had a certain role in gathering these masses who are hostile to democratic voting.

The rest of the world interviewed various observers and experts in the field. According to one of them, Arthur Pericles, a Yale Law School researcher and former executive director of InternetLab in Sao Paulo, Tesla’s boss’ Twitter takeover and the chaos that followed served as a wake-up call for the most active outsider. of Jair Bolsonaro’s voters.

Like others, Arthur Pericles gained a notable following from the most ardent accounts. “It’s just that people can understand that what Musk means is that everything will be better for them because he’s in power at Twitter.”he explains.

In early December, the New York Times reported that since the platform changed hands, online hate speech had surged there like never before. There is no doubt that these profound developments are coincidences.

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To find out, Rest of the World consulted other experts and researched what happened to some of the biggest accounts associated with Brazilian politics, ranked by their political affiliation, from left to right.

“While this may not be a comprehensive statistical study, experts believe that this list of the most important political or media-related accounts in the country shows that the acquisition of Twitter has had the effect of increasing the audience. left or more liberal wings”Charlotte Peet writes for the rest of the world.

Eduardo Matos de Alencar, a pro-Bolsonaro sociologist, tells Rest of the World that this trend is only due to rejection. shadowban Right and far-right accounts in Brazil. According to him, the billionaire would come out of the dark and decide to bring the accounts that the teams had made almost invisible back into the algorithmic light before they took him over.

But the media point out that the increased interest in politics during the election period partly explains the renewed activity on Twitter in recent months, whether it took over or not, its clear tilt to the right can only be explained by the appearance of the platform. again as a haven of peace and a place of organization for its institutional most right-wing members like lambda.

Accounts on the left, or those defined by output depending on the complexity of Brazil’s political landscape, also saw an increase in followers, but the trend was less marked for them than for supporters of Jair Bolsonaro.

“Elon Musk has restored the profiles of very dangerous extremistsMichele Prado, a researcher specializing in far-right movements in Brazil, laments. This lends legitimacy to extremist content and in the short term further radicalises far-right people, people who protest outside military bases to call for an illegal coup. democratic.”

In short, the implementation of Elon Musk’s absolutist Free Speech in Brazil should be watched very closely by democracies around the world: they may not yet be quite ready to absorb the snowballs created by the endless stream of disinformation. from the enemies of fascism.

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