Lula creates working group to fight online extremism

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Following the January 8 Brasília riots, the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration on Wednesday created a working group to present strategies and policy solutions to fight extremist acts and hate speech online. 

The group will operate under the Human Rights Ministry. Its first task will be understanding how hate speech spreads on social networks. “Speech preaching hate, fascism, and Nazism do not belong in a democracy. They have to be strongly fought before getting to people,” Human Rights Minister Silvio Almeida said.

Most of the 29 participants have been on the receiving end of social media vitriol, particularly from supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro. The list includes journalist Patrícia Campos Mello, who wrote about disinformation networks employed by the far-right during the 2018 elections, and anthropologist Débora Diniz, who fled the country in 2019 after receiving death threats for defending the right to safe abortions.

YouTuber Felipe Neto, one of the most popular influencers in the country, will also be on the working group. During the 2022 election campaign, he actively campaigned against Mr. Bolsonaro.

The committee will be chaired by Manuela D’Ávila, who in 2018 was the vice presidential nominee on the ticket headed by Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad, Lula’s understudy and his current finance minister. Ms. D’Ávila has also received threats, some targeting her six-year-old daughter.

“I will be sided by activists, researchers, and scholars, people who have a lot to contribute to Brazil becoming a global reference in the fight against hatred, extremism, intolerance and violence created in these environments,” Ms. D’Ávila said on Twitter. Last year, she announced that she wouldn’t run for office and would dedicate herself to civil society initiatives. 

The schedule of meetings and the operation mode of the working group will be defined after the first meeting. Participants will act voluntarily.

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