Brazil: Bolsonaro Decree Combats ‘Arbitrary Removal’ of Social Media Accounts

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro delivers a speech during the appointment ceremony of the new heads of public banks, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia on January 7, 2019. - Brazil's Finance Minister Paulo Guedes appointed the new presidents of the country's public banks. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo credit …
EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued a decree Monday restricting the powers of social media companies to “arbitrarily remove” accounts, profiles, and content they deem unworthy of their platforms, Brazil’s Jornal da Cidade online newspaper reported.

The decree alters regulations established by the Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet, which is a law governing the use of the internet in Brazil. The law is known as the Marco Civil da Internet in Portuguese. The right-wing Jornal da Cidade described the changes to Brazil’s internet law by conservative president Bolsonaro as a “restoration of freedom of expression on the web.”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square, attends the crypto-currency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021. (Photo by Marco BELLO / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square. (MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images).

“President Jair Bolsonaro has just signed a provisional measure that amends the Marco Civil da Internet, reinforcing the rights and guarantees of network users and combating ‘the arbitrary and unreasonable removal of accounts, profiles and content by providers,'” Brazil’s federal communications secretariat announced in a statement posted to its official Twitter account on September 6.

“The measure now signed by the President seeks greater clarity regarding the ‘policies, procedures, measures and instruments’ used by social media providers to cancel or suspend content and accounts,” according to the press release.

“In addition to the requirement of just cause and motivation in the event of cancellation, suspension and exclusion of content and features of accounts on social networks, the device [decree] also provides for the right to return the content made available by the user on the network,” the statement further read.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg, 33, was called to testify after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing. (Alex Wong/Getty Images).

The new internet legislation introduced by Bolsonaro on September 6 “goes into effect immediately but must be ratified by [Brazil’s] Congress in order to become law,” Agence France-Press (AFP) reported Monday.

U.S.-based social media companies including Twitter and Facebook have repeatedly removed posts shared by President Bolsonaro and his supporters over the past year-and-a-half on the grounds that they were allegedly misleading.

YouTube, an online video-sharing service owned by the U.S.-based tech giant Google, removed about 15 videos from President Bolsonaro’s channel on the platform in July, claiming they allegedly spread “misinformation” about the Chinese coronavirus.

“Our rules do not allow content that states that hydroxychloroquine and/or ivermectin are effective in treating or preventing COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], that states there is a cure for the disease, or says that masks do not work to prevent the spread of the virus,” YouTube said in a statement at the time explaining it why it chose to censor the Brazilian head of state.

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