Facebook puts global block on Brazil’s Bolsonaro supporters

The judge originally decided in May to block 16 Twitter accounts and 12 Facebook accounts of Bolsonaro supporters who have been linked to a probe into the spreading of fake news during Brazil’s 2018 election. (File/AP/Eraldo Peres)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Facebook puts global block on Brazil’s Bolsonaro supporters

  • A Facebook spokesperson said the order was “extreme” and threatens “freedom of expression outside of Brazil’s jurisdiction”
  • Justice Alexandre de Moraes had ruled on Thursday that Facebook and Twitter failed to comply with orders to block the accounts because they were only blocked within Brazil

BRASILIA: Facebook said on Saturday it has put a global block on certain accounts controlled by supporters of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro implicated in a fake news inquiry, a day after it was fined for not complying with a Supreme Court judge’s order to do so.
A spokesperson for Facebook said the order was “extreme” and threatens “freedom of expression outside of Brazil’s jurisdiction,” but said the company has agreed to the order.
“Given the threat of criminal liability to a local employee, at this point we see no other alternative than complying with the decision by blocking the accounts globally, while we appeal to the Supreme Court,” the spokesperson said.
Justice Alexandre de Moraes had ruled on Thursday that Facebook and Twitter failed to comply with orders to block the accounts because they were only blocked within Brazil, but remained accessible with foreign IP addresses.
On Friday, he ruled that Facebook must pay a 1.92 million reais ($367,710) fine for not complying and face further daily fines of 100,000 reais per day if it does not block the accounts in question globally.
Before the fine was announced, Facebook said on Friday that it would appeal the decision. The world’s largest social network said it respects the laws of countries where it operates, but that “Brazilian law recognizes the limits of its jurisdiction.”
The judge’s fine only addressed Facebook’s non-compliance. It was not clear whether Twitter would face a similar fine.
The judge originally decided in May to block 16 Twitter accounts and 12 Facebook accounts of Bolsonaro supporters who have been linked to a probe into the spreading of fake news during Brazil’s 2018 election.
The accounts were blocked due to allegations that they violated laws on hate speech.


Egypt grapples with women’s freedoms online as #MeToo re-emerges

Updated 02 August 2020

Egypt grapples with women’s freedoms online as #MeToo re-emerges

  • Egypt has in recent years enforced strict Internet controls
  • Stringent laws were approved in 2018 allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security

CAIRO: Social media has become a new and dangerous battleground for women’s rights in Egypt after young TikTok influencers were jailed while a resurgent #MeToo movement decried male sexual violence.
Last Monday, a court sentenced five female social media influencers, Haneen Hossam, Mowada Al-Adham and three others, to two years in jail each on charges of violating public morals over content posted to video-sharing app TikTok.
International digital rights group Access Now described them as “all women, all young, all exercising their right to freedom of expression online.”
Just two days later, a court sentenced another young social media influencer, Manar Samy, to three years in prison over TikTok videos, deeming the clips in which she dances and lip-syncs to popular songs to be “inciting debauchery.”
Many in the deeply conservative country have cheered on the arrests, as traditional social values clash with online content seen as racy and sexually suggestive.
“The Egyptian government is on a campaign to arrest and prosecute women influencers on... TikTok for violating ‘the values of the Egyptian family’ and ‘inciting debauchery and immorality,’” Access Now said in a statement.
The Egyptian authorities “not only want to control what citizens say, but also how they should dress, talk, and behave online,” said Marwa Fatafta, the group’s Middle East and North Africa policy manager.


Egypt has in recent years enforced strict Internet controls as it walks a tight line between balancing the Islamic law that shapes its governance and adapting to a rapidly shifting society with a penchant for social media content.
Stringent laws were approved in 2018 allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with over 5,000 followers.
“In the past, the Egyptian regime tightened its stronghold on the Internet... Now, the online repression extends to non-political activity too,” said Fatafta.
The six jailed women combined have millions of followers.
Hossam was arrested after posting a clip saying that girls could make money by working with her, a message that was interpreted as a call for prostitution, while Adham had posted satirical videos on TikTok and Instagram.
Aside from being a virtual battleground of competing interpretations of morality, social media has also empowered young Egyptian women to speak up about sexual assault, sometimes with negative consequences.
In May, a shocking video came to light of a young woman sobbing, her face battered and bruised.
Menna Abdel-Aziz, 17, posted an Instagram video in which she said she had been gang raped by a group of young men.
The authorities’ response was swift: the six alleged attackers were arrested — but so was Abdel-Aziz. All were charged with “promoting debauchery.”
“She committed crimes, she admitted to some of them,” the prosecutor-general said in a statement. “She deserves to be punished.”


Since Abdel-Aziz’s case surfaced, a revived #MeToo movement among Egyptian women, mostly from affluent backgrounds, has sprung into action.
A gang rape allegation made in late July stemming from a prominent social media account has been one trigger.
Another was young women posting testimonials about sexual misconduct that led to the arrest earlier in the month of Ahmed Bassam Zaki, 22, a former student of some of Egypt’s most elite schools and universities.
But the movement faces an uphill battle.
Rights groups say the government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has been curtailing freedoms since he took office in 2014.
Comedians, academics, bloggers, journalists, political dissidents, lawyers and activists are among those who have been jailed in recent years, and a music video director has died in custody.
Imprisoning social media influencers, the latest group to be targeted, “has nothing to do with protecting social values. It’s about Internet policing and control,” Access Now’s Fatafta said.
“With the massive increase in content creators and influencers on TikTok in Egypt, there is a high risk that more prosecutions targeting this community are yet to come,” the organization added.