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

On Sunday, January 8, what seemed like it was going to happen: unlike the storming of the US Capitol two years ago, Trumpist mobs, supporters of Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, who was beaten in the election, attacked the country’s places of power, especially Brazil, before moving. did

According to the Rest of the World website, the “new Twitter” that Elon Musk has promoted since he bought the platform is in the far west of “free speech”, where moderation is kept to a bare minimum (or appears to be tailored to the wishes of the boss), hostile to democratic voting. had a certain role in gathering the masses.

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 São Paulo, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the chaos that followed served as a wake-up call for the most active segment of Bolsonaro’s electorate.

Like others, Pericles saw a noticeable gain in followers for the most fiery accounts. “There might just be people who understand what Musk means, that he’s in power on Twitter, where things will be better for them.”he explains.

The New York Times reported in early December hate speech As leadership changed hands, the platform believed in a way never seen before: there are no coincidences in these profound developments.

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To make sure, Rest of the World consulted other experts and tracked what’s happening right from left to right on some of the biggest accounts related to Brazilian politics, ranked by their political affinity.

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

Eduardo Matos de Alencar, a pro-Bolsonaro sociologist, explains to the rest of the world that this trend is only due to the abandonment of a tradition. “shadow ban” Posted on right-wing and far-right accounts in Brazil. In his opinion, Elon Musk would have decided to bring it out of the darkness and replace the almost invisible reports of the teams before it was taken over by the algorithmic light.

But the media point out that increased interest in politics during the election period partly explains the renewed takeover of activism on Twitter in recent months, its apparent right-leaning but the platform’s, once again, most right-wing members, both institutional and lambda. appears as a place of shelter and organization for

Depending on the complexity of Brazil’s political landscape, “left” accounts also saw an increase in their followers, but the trend was less marked than for supporters of Jair Bolsonaro.

“Elon Musk has rehabilitated the profiles of very dangerous extremists. Michele Prado, a researcher specializing in far-right movements in Brazil, explains to Rest of the World. This lends legitimacy to extremist content, and in the short term, content that further radicalises people, people who join protests outside military bases to call for a coup that shatters the democratic order.

In short, the implementation of Elon Musk’s absolutist “free speech” in Brazil should be watched very carefully by democracies around the world: the latter, perhaps, are not yet quite ready to absorb the snowballs generated by the incessant streams. disinformation and appeals to fascism from its most present enemies.

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