Facebook owner Meta removing content backing assault on Brazil govt buildings

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Facebook parent Meta said on Monday it was removing content supporting or praising the weekend ransacking of Brazilian government buildings by anti-democratic demonstrators.

Tens of thousands of supporters of Brazil’s far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro smashed presidential palace windows, flooded parts of Congress with a sprinkler system and ransacked rooms in the Supreme Court in a more than three-hour uprising.

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“In advance of the election, we designated Brazil as a temporary high-risk location and have been removing content calling for people to take up arms or forcibly invade Congress, the Presidential palace and other federal buildings,” a Meta spokesman said.

“We are also designating this as a violating event, which means we will remove content that supports or praises these actions,” he said. “We are actively following the situation and will continue removing content that violates our policies.”

Leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office on January 1 after defeating Bolsonaro in a runoff election in October, ending Brazil’s most right-wing government in decades.

Bolsonaro refused to concede defeat and some supporters have claimed the election was stolen, with people taking to social media and messaging platforms from Twitter, Telegram, and TikTok to YouTube and Facebook, to organize protests.

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has ordered social media platforms to block users spreading anti-democratic propaganda.

Telegram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sunday’s occupation of the government buildings had been planned for at least two weeks by Bolsonaro’s supporters in groups on social media messaging platforms such as Telegram and Twitter, yet there was no move by security forces to prevent what one group called “the seizure of power by the people.”

Messages seen by Reuters throughout the week showed members of such groups organizing meeting points in several cities around the country, from where chartered buses would leave for Brasilia, with the intention to occupy public buildings.

During a demonstration by Trump supporters in January, 2021, social media companies were criticized for not doing enough.

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