Living with hate cannot be natural in our daily lives – 05/11/2023 – PerifaConnection

When you are a black person, being close to your peers becomes a necessary strategy to survive the pitfalls of racism. When you are LGBTQIA+, being in a community means finding the welcome that, on many occasions, society refuses to offer.

For generations like mine, who am 22 years old, the internet was a tool to promote dating possibilities. But that changed after digital platforms became the scene of discriminatory offenses and false information.

As a black, bisexual woman born on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, it was through YouTube, Facebook groups and content on Twitter that I discovered what black empowerment was and that heterosexuality was not compulsory.

On the other hand, these same spaces exposed me to hate speech, mainly from the rise of extremist groups in Brazil. Scrolling the screen has become an uncomfortable activity.

In 2018, Híbrida magazine compiled a list of ten fake news against the LGBT+ community disseminated during the election period, among which the distribution of erotic bottles by then candidate Fernando Haddad, now Minister of Finance, and the promotion of the so-called gay kit in schools.

In 2021, in an interview with the Roda Viva program, Anielle Franco, the current Minister of Racial Equality, reported having received several fake news about her sister Marielle Franco —a councilor in Rio de Janeiro— just two hours after her murder, in March 2018. Today, a simple Google search shows news and posts that hurt not only the memory of Marielle Franco, but the right of every black LGBT+ woman to dignity, whether in life or death.

Eight out of ten black LGBT+ people in Rio de Janeiro have been victims of hate speech, according to a survey released by Data Labe in partnership with Internews in March. The study, which interviewed 175 people from this demographic group, indicates that the black LGBT+ population may be more likely to have contact with news and content that propagate misinformation and hate speech.

In addition, around 75% of the survey respondents stated that the internet is their main means of communication and access to information, and 45% of the participants declared that they had an income of up to R$1,212.

Thus, those with few resources run the risk of being incommunicable if they reach the mobile data limit of the packages offered by the telephone operators. According to a survey by the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Defense (Idec), people from classes C, D and E only have an internet connection for 23 days a month, on average.

With the debate around bill 2,630/2020 —the Fake News Bill—in the Chamber of Deputies, society has an opportunity to control the spread of false news and hate speech on the internet. The text proposes that digital platforms adopt a transparent policy to moderate violent content, such as incitement to attack schools, threats to democracy and hate crimes on account of race, religion and sexual orientation.

Currently, many platforms suspend content without informing users of the reason for the sanction and without offering the possibility of appeal, while allowing other users to commit crimes disguised as an opinion. The project also seeks to restrict the creation of fake accounts, which are often used to broaden the reach of fake news.

This week, Telegram abused its economic power by releasing, to all its users in Brazil, a note with biased and misleading arguments against the Fake News PL. This shows that it is the platforms themselves that promote censorship and misinformation.

Freedom of expression is a non-negotiable right, but it cannot be used as a justification for spreading hate. Far from promoting censorship, the PL can help stop the escalation of violence and protect marginalized and stigmatized populations.

An uninformed community is an unarmed community in the battle for a dignified existence. Fighting for the end of fake news and misinformation is a way of saying: “living with hate cannot be natural in our daily lives”.

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