Brazil: the exploitation of social networks for political ends takes a judicial turn

Jair Bolsonaro widely used what are called digital militias during the election campaign, to attack his opponent.

AP - Eraldo Peres

Text by: Martin Bernard

3 min

In Brazil, the exploitation of social networks for political ends often contributes to the climate of polarization between President Bolsonaro and his adversaries.

But for the first time, justice has dismissed an elected official because of his practices on the internet.

Jair Bolsonaro was also the subject of a complaint before the Higher Electoral Court.

How serious is this affair one year before the next presidential election in Brazil and why has this deputy, Fernando Franceschini, been sanctioned?


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From our correspondent in Sao Paulo,

Fernando Franceschini is a relatively unknown figure in Brazilian politics.

He is a deputy of the local assembly of the state of Paraná, in the south of the country.

He is a police commissioner, but he is also close to Jair Bolsonaro.

He was one of the coordinators of his 2018 presidential campaign, and at the time he orchestrated a social media campaign against electronic ballot boxes, saying the elections had been rigged and that Jair Bolsonaro, in fact, would have had to be elected in the first round.

This is an argument that we heard a lot among supporters of the current president.

► See also: Presidential election in Brazil: between disinformation, manipulation and other rumors

And it is because of the dissemination of this fake news, this

fake news

, in a way, through social networks, that he has just been dismissed.

He was also declared ineligible for an eight-year term, but he can still appeal to the Supreme Court.

Bolsonaro questioned for his electoral practices

Jair Bolsonaro and his activists have often been questioned by the Supreme Court.

He has also been blamed for his electoral practices.

At the same time, however, Jair Bolsonaro and Vice-President Hamilton Mourão were acquitted in a similar case by the Higher Electoral Court.

► See also: 

Brazil: President Bolsonaro in the sights of electoral justice

Jair Bolsonaro widely used what are called "digital militias" during the election campaign, to attack his opponent.

A journalist,

Patricia Compos Mello

, even published an investigation on this subject and published a book on

fake news


, funded by business leaders for the benefit of Jair Bolsonaro, but justice considered that it did not there was no evidence.

Two weights, two measures ?

All the same, it must be considered that this constitutes a very strong warning from the justice system with regard to Jair Bolsonaro in view of the elections of next year, since the judge who delivered this verdict clearly said: "

If it starts again, the candidatures will be invalidated and the people who do this will go to prison for attacking democracy


This magistrate, Alexandre de Moraes, led the investigation into the

fake news

at the Supreme Court and he will chair the Superior Electoral Court next year, during the elections.

Recall that the senatorial commission of inquiry on the Covid asked that Jair Bolsonaro be banned from social networks, because of his recent statements on You Tube, associating the vaccine against the Covid with AIDS.

► To read also: 

Covid-19 in Brazil: the disclosure of the report incriminating Jair Bolsonaro postponed


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  • Jair Bolsonaro