Facebook has rated a legal system worldwide as “extreme” to block a number of Brazilian accounts related to the spread of political disinformation targeting the 2018 elections, and claims that this poses a threat to freedom of expression outside the country.
At the same time, the technology giant adheres to the blocking regulation – starting on Saturday after a Supreme Court judge imposed it for failing to pay a fine – and points out the risk of criminal liability for an on-site employee if this were not the case.
However, it appeals to the Supreme Court to try to overturn the order.
A spokesman for the technology giant sent us the following statement on the subject:
Facebook has followed the order to block these accounts in Brazil by restricting the visibility of the landing pages and profiles of IP locations in Brazil. People from IP locations in Brazil could not see these pages and profiles, even if the destinations had changed their IP location. This new legal system is extreme and poses a threat to freedom of expression outside of Brazilian jurisdiction and is contrary to laws and jurisdictions worldwide. Given the impending criminal liability for a local employee, we currently see no alternative but to comply with the decision by locking accounts worldwide while we appeal to the Supreme Court.
On Friday, a judge ordered Facebook to pay a 1
Before the fine was announced, Facebook had announced that it would appeal the global block order, adding that Brazilian law recognizes the limits of its jurisdiction while respecting the laws of the countries in which it operates.
Reuters reports that the accounts in question were controlled by supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and were involved in the dissemination of political disinformation during the 2018 elections to increase support for right-wing populists.
Last month, the news agency reported that Facebook blocked a network of social media accounts that used to distribute divisive political news online that the company had linked with Bolsonaro employees and two of his sons.
In a blog post at the time, the head of Facebook security policy, Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, wrote: “Although the people behind this activity tried to hide their identity and coordination, our research found connections with people who deal with the social liberal The party and some of the parties are related to staff from the offices of Anderson Moraes, Alana Passos, Eduardo Bolsonaro, Flavio Bolsonaro and Jair Bolsonaro. “
In total, Facebook removed 33 Facebook accounts, 14 pages, 1 group and 37 Instagram Accounts identified as involved in “coordinated spurious behavior”.
It was also announced that around 883,000 accounts followed one or more of the offensive pages; while the group had registered around 350 accounts; and 918,000 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.
The efforts of the political disops had aAround $ 1,500 for Facebook ads paid in Brazilian reais per investigation account.
Facebook said it had identified a network of “clusters” of “related activities” that involved parties using duplicate and fake accounts to “avoid enforcement, create fictional personas who pretend to be reporters, publish content, and.” Manage pages that disguise themselves as news agencies ”.
The network reported “local news and events such as domestic politics and elections, political memes, criticism of the political opposition, media organizations and journalists”; and more recently about the coronavirus pandemic, it added.
In May, a Brazilian judge instructed Facebook to block a number of Bolsonaro supporters’ accounts involved in the interference in the election. However, Facebook only used the block in Brazil – hence the court ruling for a global block.
While the technology giant was ready to remove access to the non-authentic content on site after identifying a laundry list of policy violations, it is taking a “speech” position to clean up the fake content and related accounts internationally affect freedom of expression on the Internet.
The unspoken implication is that authoritarian states or less advanced regimes might try to use similar arrangements to force platforms to apply national laws that prohibit content that is legal and freely available elsewhere to force them into another jurisdiction.
However, in this particular case, it is not entirely clear why Facebook would not simply plunge its own Banhammer into accounts that have been found to be so openly violating its own policy on coordinated authentic behavior. But the company has sometimes treated the political “speech” as exempt from its usual substantive standards – which has led to operational guidelines that become intertwined in conflicting needs.
His blog post also notes that some of the content released by the Brazilian election control operation was previously removed for violating community standards, including hate speech.
The case doesn’t just affect Facebook. Twitter in May was also instructed to block a number of accounts related to the investigation into political disops. It is not clear what action Twitter is taking.
We asked the company for a comment.