Brazil
Facebook links Bolsonaro advisor with fake accounts to target opponents and journalists
The social media giant removed several accounts associated with a member of the Brazilian president's "cabinet of hate".

Bolsonaro, who this week announced that he had Covid-19, emerged Thursday to the esplanade of the Planalto Palace to text.

Social media giant Facebook announced that it has eliminated a number of accounts and pages aimed at spreading disinformation and allegedly linked to advisors to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and two of his sons, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro and Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro.

The company reported that it removed a total of 35 accounts, 14 pages and one group on Facebook, and another 38 accounts on Instagram, some of which posed as media outlets, created fictional characters and promoted "hate speech".

Congress set up a special commission to investigate the dissemination of "fake news". Some of the witnesses who testified in front of the commission reported on the alleged participation of the Bolsonaro family in the so-called "Cabinet of Hate", which allegedly operates within the Planalto presidential palace and is led by another of the president's sons: Carlos, a city councilman in Rio de Janeiro. Facebook accused Tércio Arnaud Tomaz, Bolsonaro's special advisor.

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The Brazilian Supreme Court for months has been investigating the dissemination of " fake news" and threats against the Legislative and Judicial Powers, and suspects that behind these attacks is the far-right movement and even politicians and business leaders close to the president.

Nathaniel Gleicher, director of Cybersecurity on Facebook, said that "despite the fact that the people behind this activity tried to hide their identities and coordination," they managed to identify some of them.

Flavio and Carlos Bolsonaro, sons of the President of Brazil.

Facebook identified "people associated" with the Social Liberal Party (PSL), which Bolsonaro used as his electoral platform for the 2018 elections, although he later disassociated himself from it, and "some of the cabinet officials" of "Eduardo Bolsonaro, Flávio Bolsonaro and Jair Bolsonaro".

The head of state, leader of the Brazilian extreme right, faces another investigation by the Electoral Justice Department that could annul his victory in the 2018 elections precisely for the dissemination of fake news by members of his campaign.

The social media giant also cites "Anderson Moraes and Alana Passos", members of Congress from Rio de Janeiro, the political birthplace of the Bolsonaro family, as being the promoters of this disinformation network, which has now been shut down, and as being suspected of participating in a plot to divert public money in which Flávio himself is also under investigation.

"The activity included the creation of fictitious characters pretending to be reporters, the publication of content and the administration of pages pretending to be media outlets," Facebook said.

The content was about "local news and events" that dealt with political issues, elections, "political memes", criticism of the political opposition and more recently the coronavirus pandemic.

Followers of those profiles amounted to about 883,000 on Facebook and nearly 917,000 on Instagram.

The investigations conducted by the company might be added to the case currently underway at the Supreme Court by Justice Alexandre De Moraes, who is trying to find out the origin of these cyber-attacks on the parliament and the Supreme Court.

The two institutions have served as a counterweight to the Bolsonaro administration by suspending or toning down some of the most controversial initiatives of the far-right leader, such as the access to arms for the civilian population.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, the so-called "Bolsonarismo" has combined its frenetic activity on social media with protests in Brasilia and other cities throughout the country, which have been described as "anti-democratic" by the Public Prosecutor's Office, as they call for the "closure" of Congress and the Supreme Court through "military intervention".

The activism of these far-right groups was on the rise with supremacist symbolism marches reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan and a "bombing" with fireworks against the Supreme Court headquarters.

De Moraes ordered the arrest of some of the leaders of these radical groups, although he was released on precautionary measures.

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