by Antônio F. Oliveira
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have become conniving with leftist parties, newspapers and Brazil’s Supreme Court.
The purpose of this section is to analyze the influence of algorithms and social networks on politics, as well as the questionable partnership between the Supreme Court of Brazil and social networks. It is important to understand how this partnership has been used by the powers of the Republic to advance specific projects and how this may be being used against political opponents and the fundamental freedoms of society, including freedom of expression.
The controversial Inquiry of Fake News
To understand what prompted the new behavior of the Brazilian Supreme Court in partnership with social media regarding the suppression of freedom of expression, it is crucial to analyze Inquiry 4781, also known as the Fake News Inquiry. This inquiry was initiated by the then-president of the Supreme Court, Dias Toffoli, ex officio in March 2019, to investigate the existence of fake news, slanderous accusations, and threats that could constitute crimes of defamation, libel, and insult against members of the Supreme Court and their families. Based on article 43 of the Supreme Court Internal Regulations, which allows the president of the Court to initiate an inquiry ex officio to investigate facts that may constitute crimes against the honor of its members or the Court itself, the inquiry generated controversy, as some questioned its legality and conformity with the principle of natural judge and the guarantee of due process of law. Understanding the reasons behind the opening of this inquiry is crucial to understanding the current political situation in Brazil and the possible risks that other nations may face if their judiciary begins to act similarly.
The Fake News Inquiry is being reported by Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who was assigned to the case without a random draw among the court justices, generating controversy. In addition, the inquiry was not initiated upon request from another competent authority, such as a law enforcement agency, prosecutor’s office, or the Attorney General’s Office. In light of these facts, it is crucial to reflect on the growing convergence of state powers and social media, which through unconstitutional inquiries, increase their own power and can promote specific projects and even persecute political opponents. In this sense, it is appropriate to say that the fundamental freedoms of society, such as freedom of expression and respect for the rule of law, are threatened by such groups who, in addition to not having received votes, are putting democratic order at risk (Smith, 2010). This inquiry is considered a violation of the principle of judicial impartiality, since the Supreme Court Justice acts as a victim, lawyer, accuser, and judge, determining the sentence without the participation of other powers and without respecting the separation of prerogatives. In addition, the inquiry has no defined deadline to end, depending solely on the will of the rapporteur (Stanton, 2014). The alleged criminals accused of spreading fake news or hate speech – phenomena that are not classified as crimes by the Brazilian Constitution – do not have access to the process, and their lawyers are unaware of the reasons why their clients are being accused. Furthermore, there is no presentation of evidence justifying prior censorship or pre-trial detention by the Court.
Reference: Source of Inquiry 4781: https://portal.stf.jus.br/processos/detalhe.asp?incidente=5651823 Smith, J. (2010). Social Media and Democracy. Journal of International Affairs, 64(1), 25-44. Stanton, J. (2014). Judicial Impartiality: A Historical, Empirical, and Normative Analysis. Michigan Law Review, 112(6).
According to an interview given to the UOL newspaper, former Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Marco Aurélio, who held the position for 31 years (1990-2021) and is the second-longest serving justice in the history of the Court, stated that “The accusatory system opposes the inquisitorial system, which is characterized by the concentration of the functions of accusing and judging in a single state agent: the inquisitor judge. The separation of state functions in the accusatory system is fundamental to guarantee the impartiality of the process. If the body that accuses is the same as the one that judges, the accused is at a disadvantage, which diminishes confidence and credibility in the justice system. Even if the right to defense is guaranteed, the inquisitorial model is flawed. The Inquiry in question is, therefore, in its essence, a stillborn inquiry.” The former minister’s statement reinforces the importance of the Constitution as the country’s main legal norm, which must be respected by all powers and institutions.
Reference: Aurélio, Marco. 2020. “The Accusatory System vs. the Inquisitorial System.” UOL, June 18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9xGGHetvA4
Renowned Brazilian jurist Ives Gandra Martins, who participated in the National Constituent Assembly of 1987/1988 and helped draft several constitutional amendments as a legal consultant for the Federal Senate, also stated that “Justice Alexandre de Moraes has established the figure of ‘perpetual flagrancy,’ in which an individual can be arrested for something said in a video, even if 10 years have passed since its publication. This measure raises concerns about the guarantee of legal security and the presumption of innocence and is not provided for in the Brazilian Penal Code. The problem is aggravated by the fact that the national security law, which is being used as the basis for the inquiry, is being placed above the Constitution.” The jurist’s statement demonstrates that this measure raises concerns about the guarantee of legal security and the presumption of innocence, and is not provided for in the Brazilian Penal Code. It is worth noting that in comparative law, the idea of “perpetual flagrancy” is contrary to several fundamental principles of law, such as legal security, the presumption of innocence, due process, and proportionality. In addition, in many countries, preventive detention and interception of communications must be limited to specific and temporary situations, based on grounded and justified judicial decisions. In short, perpetual flagrancy is not a recognized or accepted practice in comparative law. Citation: Martins, Ives Gandra. Interview. YouTube, uploaded by Jovem Pan News, 31 Aug. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PykbtoGheDU&t=109s
During a debate on CNN, Caio Coppolla, a law graduate from the University of São Paulo (USP) and political commentator, criticized the inquiry in question, pointing out that “the inquiry presents a generic and perpetual approach, in which any criticism, attack or threat is inserted in the same category, without distinction. Furthermore, there is a clear incompatibility in the fact that the Minister acts as both judge and one of the victims in the process.” It is not common in Comparative Law for criticisms, attacks and threats to be treated equally, as they are distinct categories and should be evaluated according to their own criteria. Moreover, the idea of a perpetual inquiry, in which a person may be investigated indefinitely, raises concerns about fundamental guarantees such as the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. In general, the legal systems of democratic countries adopt principles such as proportionality, legality and due process to ensure that the State’s investigative power is exercised in an appropriate and limited manner.
Former Attorney General of the Republic, Raquel Dodge, prevented the continuation of the aforementioned investigation due to possible illegalities in the process. In a document sent to the Supreme Court, Dodge stated that she had archived the inquiry, arguing that according to the Constitution, only the Public Prosecutor’s Office would have the power to initiate and conduct criminal investigations. However, Alexandre de Moraes, responsible for conducting the case, deemed Dodge’s decision null and void, claiming that the archiving was solely within the purview of the Supreme Court, as the investigation was under its responsibility and not that of prosecutors.
Here are five articles of the Brazilian Constitution that clearly and unquestionably demonstrate that a minister cannot act simultaneously as a judge and a victim, nor can they open investigations or make preventive arrests without due process:
Article 5, section XXXIX: “there is no crime without a previous law defining it, nor punishment without a prior legal determination.”
Article 5, section LIV: “no one shall be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law.”
Article 5, section LV: “litigants, in judicial or administrative proceedings, and the accused in general, are ensured the right to a defense, with the means and resources inherent to it.”
Article 129, section I: “The institutional functions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office are to promote, exclusively, public criminal action, in accordance with the law.”
Article 129, section VIII: “The institutional functions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office are to request investigative measures and the instigation of a police inquiry, indicating the legal grounds for their procedural manifestations.” (Brazilian Constitution, Art. 5, XXXIX; Art. 5, LIV; Art. 5, LV; Art. 129, I; Art. 129, VIII)
For comparison purposes, according to the Constitution of the United States, Supreme Court justices do not have the authority to act as both victim and judge in a legal proceeding. The fundamental principle of due process requires that parties be treated fairly and impartially, and the impartial judge figure is critical to American justice. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution guarantee the right to due process of law, which requires that judicial proceedings be fair and equitable and that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law (United States Constitution, 1789). Moreover, the US Supreme Court does not have the power to initiate criminal investigations or conduct inquiries. This function is reserved for law enforcement agencies such as the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The role of Supreme Court judges in the US is to interpret the Constitution and federal laws, and their authority is limited to cases that are brought before them through the proper legal process. They do not have the authority to initiate investigations and must act impartially and fairly in all cases that come before them (Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932)).
Finally, Thaméa Danelon, who served as a Federal Prosecutor for 22 years and is also a professor of Criminal Procedure, published a series of eight objective tweets on her Twitter account in which she clearly explains why the Fake News inquiry is completely illegal. Follow the tweets:
1. “It violates the accusatory system (the judge cannot investigate, only the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Police)” (Danelon, 2020, para. 1). 2. “It offends the principle of free distribution (the judge who will eventually judge the case cannot be chosen, there must be a free draw among the judges)” (Danelon, 2020, para. 2). 3. “It does not investigate objective and specific facts, ‘Fake News’ is not a crime typified in the Penal Code, and the threat to the Supreme Court and family members is extremely vague” (Danelon, 2020, para. 3). 4. “The alleged crimes did not occur on the premises of the Supreme Court, so there is no (procedural) competence of the Supreme Court” (Danelon, 2020, para. 4). 5. “It should be remembered that the former Attorney General of the Republic, Raquel Dodge, last year, ARCHIVED said Inquiry, however, it was not accepted by the Supreme Court” (Danelon, 2020, para. 5). 6. “Last year a magazine was censored by the ‘Fake News’ inquiry and several people underwent, in my opinion, undue search and seizure, violating Freedom of Expression” (Danelon, 2020, para. 6). 7. “Investigated individuals were unable to access the Inquiry in question, in violation of the Supreme Court’s own Binding Precedent 14, which authorizes the investigated person’s lawyer to view the case files” (Danelon, 2020, para. 7).
8. “Today, other equally undue searches and seizures were carried out. In my opinion, everything would be TOTALLY null and void” (Danelon, 2020, para. 8).
Reference: Danelon, T. (2020, May 27). [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/thameadanelon/status/1265637432978014215?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw %7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1265637432978014215%7Ctwgr%5E0fd7803e2e3023344987ab17e47a6071f9a5beb7%7Ctwcon %5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Frevistaoeste.com%2Fpolitica%2F8-motivos-que-tornam-o-inquerito-das-fake-news-ilegal%2F
Consequences of the inquiry
Since the opening of the inquiry by the then president of the Supreme Court, Minister Dias Toffoli, on March 14, 2019, several people have been arrested preventively, had their social media censored, their YouTube channels demonetized, their bank secrecy broken and were targeted by search and seizure by the Brazilian Federal Police. An emblematic case was that of former Congressman Daniel Silveira, who was held in preventive detention for almost a year after criticizing and offending Minister Alexandre de Moraes on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies. However, it is important to note that Brazilian deputies and senators are inviolable, both civilly and criminally, for any of their opinions, words, and votes in the exercise of their mandate, as established in article 53 of the Brazilian Constitution of 1988. Businessmen such as Luciano Hang, owner of the Havan network, and Afrânio Barreira, owner of the Coco Bambu network, were also censored on their social media and targeted by search and seizure by the Federal Police at the behest of Minister Alexandre de Moraes, based on alleged attacks on democracy, motivated by conversations in WhatsApp groups in which Hang and other businessmen stated that they preferred a military intervention rather than being governed by the “biggest corrupt politician in Western history” again.
Furthermore, this inquiry has already resulted in the unprecedented removal of elected governors without adequate investigation, which included due process and the right to defense, with the opening of an inquiry and the institution of a judicial process, and without the participation of the STJ, the agency responsible for judging state governors, as provided for in article 105, item I (CF, Brazil, 1988).
Journalist Allan dos Santos, accused of spreading fake news and attacking democracy, is currently in exile in the United States, although there is no evidence incriminating him. Additionally, then- President Jair M. Bolsonaro was prevented from holding his weekly live broadcasts during the election campaign in both presidential residences (Alvorada and Planalto). This fact is condemnable in the light of article 2 of the Constitution, which establishes that the powers of the State are independent and harmonious with each other, namely: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary.
Below, I present you with a list of individuals and companies that have been subject to various restrictive measures, such as investigations, arrests, censorship, demonetization, shadowbans, bank account disclosures, passport cancellations, exiles, fines, removal from public office, and police search and seizures by the Supreme Court and social media platforms (Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook). These measures were applied with the acquiescence of the social media companies and often immediately, without guaranteeing the right to a defense, access to evidence, or due process that would allow the accused to exercise their right to defense and contradiction. This situation makes the protection of fundamental rights more difficult and often impossible, hindering the work of lawyers.
It is important to note that this list should be recorded and examined carefully, especially in regards to issues of law and justice.
List of companies and individuals prevented from exercising their right of defense and contradiction
Jair Messias Bolsonaro: During his presidential term in Brazil, which ran from 2019 to 2022, Jair Messias Bolsonaro (PL) faced more than 123 interventions from the Supreme Court and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). These interventions ranged from the suspension of high-level appointments, such as that of Alexandre Ramagem to the head of the Federal Police, to the prohibition of live broadcasts and the immediate suspension of Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s YouTube channel by YouTube itself, without the right to appeal. In addition, the president was obliged, by decision of the Supreme Court itself, to almost completely transfer his power of action in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic to governors and mayors (an action that does not find constitutional support).
Source: https://revistaoeste.com/politica/stf-ja-tomou-123-medidas-contra-bolsonaro-mostra-levantamento/ and https://revistaoeste.com/politica/youtube-derruba-live-e-suspende-canal-de-bolsonaro-por-uma-semana/
Nise Yamaguchi: Doctor Nise Yamaguchi, known for advocating for the possible use of hydroxychloroquine, was censored by Twitter for spreading fake news, along with other doctors, lawmakers, and individuals who advocated for the freedom to vaccinate or not and for early treatment. This explicit censorship generated criticism and allegations that big pharma was colluding with social media platforms, especially Twitter, to suppress freedom of expression on the topic (as shown in the Twitter Files report). A study titled “Censorship and Suppression of Covid-19 Heterodoxy: Tactics and Counter- Tactics” highlights attempts to silence renowned medical experts on topics such as the origins of Covid-19, mask mandates, the efficacy of early treatment, the use of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, the usefulness of lockdowns and restrictions, vaccine efficacy, and appropriate vaccine mandate and passport policies. According to the study, censorship against doctors and scholars in the field was widespread and occurred on various social media platforms, streaming sites, and search engines. In fact, some professionals were subject to restrictions on document-sharing platforms such as Google Docs. The exclusion of social media accounts of medical professionals was largely motivated by pressure from governments, which collaborated with technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Such actions have sparked intense debate about freedom of expression, individuals’ ability to make informed decisions about their own health, and the role of technology companies in regulating public discourse.
Ibaneis Rocha (MDB), the governor of the Federal District, was suspended from his position for 90 days by the Brazilian Supreme Court due to alleged leniency about the invasion that occurred on January 8th, 2023. The invasion was motivated by protesters after the 2022 presidential elections and was considered suspicious due to the official report of the armed forces, which pointed to the impossibility of auditing the source code. The suspension occurred without the right to defense and contradiction. It is important to note that, despite the punishment of the governor, the Lula government had prior knowledge of the invasion through the ABIN (Brazilian National Intelligence Agency), equivalent to the American CIA, but did not act to prevent the action and, curiously, was not punished by the court. Source¹: STF forms majority to keep Ibaneis Rocha suspended from DF government (jovempan.com.br) Source²: Report from the Armed Forces does not exclude the possibility of fraud, says Ministry of Defense (jovempan.com.br)
Bia Kicis, a conservative federal deputy, had her social media accounts on both Twitter and Instagram censored due to suspicions of spreading fake news.
Source: “Bia Kicis está censurada no Instagram” – horabrasilia.com.br
Carla Zambelli, another conservative federal deputy, had her social media accounts (Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook, and Twitter) censored for allegations of anti-democratic actions and spreading fake news.
Source: “Carla Zambelli é censurada e fica sem acesso às redes sociais” – regiao16.com
Daniel Silveira, a former federal deputy (PSL-RJ) known for his conservative opinions, was arrested in 2021 but was released through a presidential pardon granted by then-President Jair M. Bolsonaro. On February 2nd, 2023, Silveira was arrested again after leaving his parliamentary post due to charges of hate speech, spreading fake news, and attacking democracy.
Source: “Daniel Silveira é preso no Rio de Janeiro após perder foro privilegiado” – jovempan.com.br
Cabo Junior Amaral, a conservative federal deputy and military police officer, had his Twitter account blocked due to a judicial demand.
Source: “Deputados Bia Kicis e Cabo Junio têm perfis suspensos no Twitter” – uol.com.br
Luiz Philippe de Orléans e Bragança (PSL-SP), a conservative federal deputy, is being investigated for the alleged spreading of fake news.
Source: Inquérito das Fake News – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre (wikipedia.org)
Allan dos Santos, a conservative journalist from the Terça Livre website, had his extradition denied by Interpol after a request from the Supreme Court and is prohibited from using social media platforms on the internet indefinitely. Additionally, his passport was canceled due to suspicion of spreading hatred and attacking democracy.
Source: What is at stake in the request for the extradition of Allan dos Santos (gazetadopovo.com.br)
Sara Winter, a conservative activist and leader of the “300 do Brasil!” movement, was arrested for suspected anti-democratic acts.
Source: Activist Sara Winter is arrested by the Federal Police in Brasília (uol.com.br)
Winston Lima, a retired captain, conservative YouTuber and organizer of pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations, had his properties, including cell phones and computers, seized due to suspicion of hate speech and spreading fake news.
Source: Alvo da PF, militar reformado que orgaiza atos bolsonaristas diz estar “triste” (uol.com.br)
Bernardo Küster, a conservative YouTuber, had his Facebook and Twitter accounts blocked for the alleged dissemination of fake news.
Source: Bernardo Küster tem redes sociais bloqueadas após decisão do STF (terra.com.br)
Reynaldo Bianchi Junior, a conservative comedian known as Rey Bianchi, had a search and seizure carried out in his home due to suspicion of spreading fake news.
Source: Humorista alvo do STF, grava o momento da PF em sua casa enquanto sua mulher chora (jornaldacidadeonline.com.br)
Luciano Hang, a conservative businessman and activist, had his social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram) removed due to accusations of antidemocratic acts.
Source: Com novas redes suspensas, Luciano Hang agora perde Twitter e YouTube (agenciadanoticia.com.br)
Businessman Afrânio Barreira, owner of the Coco Bambu restaurant chain, is the target of a search and seizure warrant for alleged attacks against democracy in conversations on WhatsApp.
Source: Advogados se manifestam contra ‘escalada autoritária’ de Moraes (revistaoeste.com)
Conservative federal deputy Nikolas Ferreira (PL-MG) had his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts removed due to suspicion of disseminating fake news and hate speech.
Source: Sem Instagram e Twitter, agora Nikolas Ferreira perde conta no Facebook (abril.com.br)
Conservative journalist Paulo Figueredo had his social media accounts (Instagram and Twitter) restricted, his passport canceled, and his bank accounts suspended due to suspicion of attacks on democracy, spreading fake news, and hate speech.
Source: Moraes mandou cancelar passaporte e bloqueou contas bancárias de Paulo Figueiredo, diz deputado (gazetabrasil.com.br)
Barbara, a conservative political commentator for the channel “Te atualizei,” had her Twitter account withheld and her YouTube channel demonetized for alleged hate speech and dissemination of fake news.
Source: De uma só vez, contas de Monark, Bárbara e Nikolas são derrubadas no Twitter (jornaldacidadeonline.com.br)
Bruno Aiub, founder of the “Flow Podcast,” had his Twitter and YouTube accounts removed due to a lawsuit for alleged anti-democratic acts and hate speech.
Source: Monark tem canal do YouTube bloqueado e se diz ‘censurado pelo STF’ (TecMundo.com)
Federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PL-SP), son of former President Jair M. Bolsonaro, had his social media accounts limited, including restricted reach and deletion of posts, due to allegations of violating community standards.
Source: Eduardo Bolsonaro diz que vai processar Facebook e Instagram por “censura” | Exame
Source: Eduardo Bolsonaro acusa Instagram de “shadowban” e promove enxurrada de processos contra a rede (diariodocentrodomundo.com.br)
Marcos Cintra Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, a Brazilian economist and politician affiliated with União Brasil, had his Twitter account suspended and is facing lawsuits due to the alleged dissemination of fake news.
Source: Marcos Cintra, o novo alvo do sistema STF-TSE (revistaoeste.com)
The Jovem Pan, a commercial radio and TV network with a conservative editorial line in Brazil, had its YouTube channels demonetized and its radio station and social media accounts regulated due to accusations of spreading fake news and hate speech.
Source: URGENT: Jovem Pan admits to being under censorship (revistaoeste.com)
The Brazil Paralelo platform, known for its conservative editorial line, had its online presence limited, including its website, Instagram, Twitter, and Podcast, during the second round of the 2022 presidential elections, due to allegations of “informational disorder” by Justice Lewandowski of the Brazilian Supreme Court.
Source: TSE did not see the video that was censored (revistaoeste.com)
Oswaldo Eustáquio, an investigative journalist, was arrested, censored, and alleges that he was tortured by the police who arrested him, accused of spreading fake news and hate speech. He currently suffers from partial paralysis in one leg.
Source: Jailed and censored, for the first time Oswaldo Eustáquio recounts the moments of torture he suffered (jornaldacidadeonline.com.br)
International repercussion on the case
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested information about the “Fake News Investigation” conducted by the Brazilian Supreme Court, which acts as a victim, complainant, lawyer, prosecutor, and judge, without the participation of other constitutional powers, such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office, who opposed the investigation as unconstitutional and called for its closure.
Source: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requests clarification on fake news investigation (revistaoeste.com)
Edison Lanza, the rapporteur on freedom of expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), expresses concern about actions contrary to freedom of expression by the Brazilian Supreme Court.
Source: @EdisonLanza on Twitter: “Sigo con preocupación decisión de juez del @STF_oficial que ordenó cerrar decenas de cuentas en redes de activistas y blogueros por alegado discurso de odio. El umbral a probar caso a caso es incitación a la violencia. No clausurar al barrer (13.5 Conv.) https://t.co/73nl2Gfy9X” / Twitter
The New York Times releases an article questioning if “To defend democracy, is Brazil’s top court going too far?” Source: To Defend Democracy, Is Brazil’s Top Court Going Too Far? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Elon Musk claims that “Twitter likely interfered in the Brazilian elections of 2022.”
Source: Elon Musk: Twitter likely interfered in the Brazilian elections of 2022 (dmixbrasil.com.br)
Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and current owner of Twitter, criticize the actions of the Brazilian Supreme Court.
Source: Glenn Greenwald and Elon Musk criticize censorship in Brazil (revistaoeste.com)
Interpol denied the extradition request of Allan dos Santos issued by the Brazilian Supreme Court.
Source: Interpol does not include Allan dos Santos on the wanted list (revistaforum.com.br)
Companies punished for not meeting the demands of the Supreme Court
The messaging app Telegram has been ordered by the Brazilian Supreme Court to censor journalist Allan dos Santos and publications by former president Jair M. Bolsonaro, under the risk of being blocked in the entire country.
Source: Can Telegram be blocked in Brazil? – (tecmundo.com)
The CEO and founder of the social media platform Gettr, Jason Miller, was detained for hours at the Brasília International Airport for questioning, at the request of Minister Alexandre de Moraes of the Supreme Court, without access to the details of the process.
Source: Can Telegram be blocked in Brazil? – (tecmundo.com)
Telegram has received a million-dollar fine for not complying with the Supreme Court’s decision to block the account of federal deputy Nikolas Ferreira. The messaging app argues that there is not enough evidence to justify the blocking of the deputy’s account.
Source: Telegram pays a millionaire fine, but maintains reconsideration request for STF – canaltech (canaltech.com.br)
The video platform Rumble did not comply with the Supreme Court’s decision to block the channel of the creator of the Flow Podcast, Bruno Aiub (Monark), citing a lack of evidence presented by the court.
Source: Rumble contrary STF and keeps in the air channels of the judiciary (gazetadopovo.com.br)
Twitter sees the Supreme Court’s decision to block the social media accounts of entrepreneurs for allegations of “fake news” and “attacks on democracy” as censorship.
Source: Twitter points to censorship of the STF and calls for unlocking entrepreneurial accounts (cnnbrasil.com.br)
In summary, there has recently been a discussion about the relationship between social media and algorithms and the requirements of the Brazilian Supreme Court, in which it is possible for companies to act negligently in relation to the decisions of the Brazilian judiciary. In cases where these companies challenge the decisions of the Supreme Court, there is a tendency for them to be immediately punished or threatened with blocking or fines, which can be interpreted as a violation of protection for freedom of expression and the rights of these companies.
The following is an overview of the positions of democratic countries’ constitutions on freedom of expression:
United States Constitution: First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
United Kingdom [Convention]: Article 10 – “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes freedom of opinion and freedom to receive or impart information or ideas without interference by public authorities and regardless of frontiers.”
Constitution of Brazil: Article 5, Section IV – “É livre a manifestação do pensamento, sendo vedado o anonimato.” (Freedom of thought is guaranteed, and anonymity is prohibited).
Constitution of France: Article 11 – “La libre communication des idées et des opinions est un des droits les plus précieux de l’homme ; par conséquent, tout citoyen peut parler, écrire, imprimer librement, répondant toutefois des abus de cette liberté dans les termes prévus par la loi.” (The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man; accordingly, every citizen may speak, write and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law).
Constitution of Germany: Article 5 – “Jeder hat das Recht, seine Meinung in Wort, Schrift und Bild frei zu äußern und zu verbreiten und sich aus allgemein zugänglichen Quellen ungehindert zu informieren. Pressefreiheit und Informationsfreiheit durch Rundfunk und Kino sind gewährleistet. Eine Zensur wird nicht vorgenommen.” (Everyone shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship).
Constitution of Spain: Article 20 – “Se reconoce y protege el derecho a la libertad de expresión, información y creación artística, y el derecho a comunicar o recibir libremente información veraz por cualquier medio de difusión.” (The right to freely express and disseminate thoughts, ideas, and opinions by any medium shall be guaranteed. The exercise of this right shall not be hindered by any form of censorship).
Israel [Basic Law]: Article 8 – “ייפגע לא האקדמית וההוראה המחקר , המחשבה , הביטוי ”חופש. (Freedom of expression, thought, research and academic teaching will not be violated)
This scenario raises constitutional and legal questions, as all democratic constitutions establish that everyone is equal before the law and that freedom of expression is a fundamental right to be guaranteed by the State. Furthermore, the right to information, which includes access to content on social networks and other virtual platforms, is considered one of the foundations for the full exercise of citizenship and free thought. Therefore, it is essential to adopt measures to ensure the protection of these rights and freedom of expression on social networks, without prejudicing the performance of the Supreme Court and other State institutions. However, this is a matter that we will address in the conclusion of this article.
For more in this article, see:
- Prologue and Section 1: Literature Review
- Section 2: Data and real examples
- Section 3: Abuse of Power on Social Networks
- Section 4: Elon Musk exposes Twitter files
- Section 5: Behind the scenes of manipulation: techniques used to influence public opinion
- Section 6: Exploring solutions to the challenges presented: a critical review
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