Breaking into Brazil’s Congress: How encrypted message was used to ask 5 million individuals to hitch protests
- Hannah Gilbert and Giuliana Gragnani
Final Sunday, the world watched in amazement as 1000’s of Jair Bolsonaro supporters stormed Congress, the Supreme Court docket and the presidential palace in Brazil.
In a scene much like the assault on the US Capitol almost two years in the past, protesters stormed the buildings chanting that the presidential election had been rigged and that Bolsonaro was the true winner.
However how was this violent demonstration organized in entrance of the safety companies and social media observers? We’re investigating this matter to learn how this occurred.
Invites to “Get together”
In latest months, Bolsonaro supporters have been circulating conspiracy theories on-line, selling the concept that the previous president was the true winner of the election.
Within the days main as much as the assault on the Brazilian Congress, discussions have been heated and concerned a variety of metaphors and oblique expressions. Probably the most distinguished speech was the invitation of the Brazilians to the “Selma live performance”.
The phrase “Selma” derives from the phrase “silva” which suggests “jungle” in Portuguese, and the Brazilian Military additionally makes use of it as a salute or as a name to name troopers into battle.
4 days earlier than the riots, a video clip of Selma’s “live performance” circulated in teams on the social networking utility Telegram. On this clip, a person describes the “elements” for this “occasion,” which embrace a Brazilian model of sugar known as Union and 5 giant corn cobs. The phrase “corn” was one other metaphor: “Milho” means corn in Portuguese, whereas “Milhao” means a million, so this message meant an invite to 5 million individuals to hitch the protest.
Idiot the observers
Most social media platforms ban and reject requires violence, so it is potential that these metaphors have been meant to trick and evade content material moderators.
In a video posted to TikTok, which has since been deleted, a lady particularly stated she not speaks about politics on TikTok as a result of she did not need her account eliminated, after which spoke about “Selma’s occasion.”
Elsewhere, different “events” have been posted, together with one for Selma’s cousin Thelma in São Paulo and her sister Vilma in Rio de Janeiro. However these occasions have not picked up a lot momentum for the time being.
However the principle social media platform below scrutiny is Twitter, the place hashtags like #SelmaPartys have been trending over the weekend. The hashtag was used to “invite” individuals to the complicated of presidency buildings exterior of Congress generally known as “Three Powers Sq..”
lack of observers
Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, the corporate has laid off many staff, together with staff in Brazil tasked with combating election misinformation. Twitter and Musk have repeatedly emphasised that they deal with essentially the most dangerous content material on the positioning.
This is not the primary time on-line misinformation has led to an assault on democracy: Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted at a listening to on the 2021 US Capitol storming that misinformation on social websites helped incite performed a task within the violence.
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