Brazilian Internet lives new “Blue Whale moment”

Twitter’s failure to moderate the hashtag #tcctwt, where young people post glorifying attacks on schools and threaten new acts of violence, will give us a new “blue whale moment” in 2023, just as Congress prepares to vote on a new regulation. for the internet.

In 2017, there was even a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on the game that would be leading children and adolescents to injure themselves or even commit suicide.

The Blue Whale CPI gained momentum with panic and widespread ignorance about how the supposed game worked. Several cases began to be attributed to the Blue Whale and a measure to punish those responsible needed to be implemented.

It turns out that there was no one to centralize the actions of the supposed game. It was not an application, a game installed on computers, but a dynamic that is more similar to current challenges, only shared in private communications and not through public videos.

Among the proposals on how to increase the protection of children on the internet and criminalize this type of game, others emerged that sought to speed up the removal of criticism of politicians on the networks.

I know, it seems that one thing has nothing to do with the other, but the Blue Whale CPI ended up expanding the debates on internet regulation and from there several projects appeared.

Some intended to change the Marco Civil da Internet to facilitate the removal of content, others changed the Penal Code. A PL was eventually approved that criminalized challenges that led to damage such as self-mutilation, with an eye on things like Momo and Blue Whale.

Now, if there is an agenda that unites the different political tribes, it is the protection of children on the internet.

Just remember that a project on actions to combat the Blue Whale game was discussed at the Rio de Janeiro City Council, authored by councilors such as Otoni de Paula (MDB), Cláudio Castro (PL) and Marielle Franco (PSOL).

perfect storm

While Twitter doesn’t move and a handful of users combine acts of violence for a certain day, messages begin to appear from people afraid to send their children to school and the coordinator canceling activities.

It’s the perfect storm to relive the mood of the Blue Whale.

Now that the media attention is on the messages exchanged on Twitter, Discord or Telegram channels, it is likely that there is even a certain manipulation in these environments to make it appear that actions have larger proportions or that there is a huge network of minors ready being called upon to commit violent acts. Nothing that some automated accounts can’t make it seem true.

In any case, there is indeed a dangerous process of radicalizing minors aimed at glorifying school shooters, who share edits with photos and video clips romanticizing the killers.

These groups left the chans (internet forums for the most diverse subjects, usually with little moderation) and began to operate in the most popular social networks.

It is up to the platforms to act to curb the sharing of this content, which is against their own rules, by the way.

Protection of children or politicians?

An update of internet rules in Brazil could be positive, but if it comes as a response to episodes of violence in schools, the amendment could come out worse than the sonnet.

Do you remember that the Blue Whale CPI flirted with the idea of ​​giving superpowers to politicians on the networks, giving them access to a fast track content removal process?

PL2630/2020, which seeks to be the new framework for internet regulation in Brazil, is about to be voted on in the Chamber of Deputies. It brings important innovations, but it also gives politicians immunity on social media.

If before politicians would quickly remove criticism, now they could say whatever they wanted without running the risk of having posts removed or moderated.

Given the central role that political accounts on social media have played in recent disinformation campaigns, from vaccines to the functioning of polling stations, it is surprising that a project that was designed to fight fake news ends up supporting this type of expedient.

In any case, it would also not be surprising if adherence to the PL gained momentum with the aim of restricting messages that encourage violent acts at school.

Internet regulation in Brazil may experience its second “Blue Whale moment”. Both with regard to the generalized panic leading to emergency solutions, and by taking advantage of the changes to create new rules about how politicians speak (or are spoken to) on the networks.

Brazil did well in the first Blue Whale moment. The approved legislation was punctual and did not pass the proposals that gave politicians superpowers in social networks.

But now, with the need to react to the violence of January 8th, fight misinformation and pacify schools, the challenge of achieving balance is doubled.

Meanwhile, Twitter, which is supposed to moderate the illicit content that fuels this debate, responds to press inquiries about this and other topics with a poop emoji. No comments.

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