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HomeBreaking NewsOnline hate speech increased during Brazil’s elections, new study finds

Online hate speech increased during Brazil’s elections, new study finds

'Quick read' news summary

São Paulo, Brazil — The most polarized election in Brazil’s history was also the most vile on the internet. Reports of xenophobia, religious intolerance and misogyny increased by 39.3% compared to 2021, according to a new study from Safernet, an organization that monitors hate speech online. 

Between January 1, 2022 and October 31, 2022, Safernet received 54,888 reports of internet hate crimes compared to 39,379 in the same period last year. This was the third consecutive election (2018, 2020 and 2022) in which there was an increase in complaints. Staggeringly instances of xenophobia, a crime in Brazil, increased by 821%, while religious intolerance grew by 522% and misogyny by 184%.

For Safernet, the numbers indicate that the elections are like a trigger for the advancement of hate speech on the internet, especially on social media. The complaints grow in election years, becoming a powerful political platform to attract the audience’s attention and give visibility and notoriety to criminals.

“Elections have become a fertile field for the growth of hate speech, which feeds on prejudices already rooted in people’s imagination,” said Juliana Cunha, director of Safernet. “The best antidote to hate speech is information and dialogue. As long as we are not able to listen and understand the reality of those who are different, it will be difficult for us to live together respecting differences.” 

Prejudices between northern and southern Brazil were also evident from the data collected by Safernet. 

In the wealthier southern region of Brazil, where there’s a larger population of white, European descendants, and where outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro received a majority of votes, online content that was discriminatory of their northern neighbors was disseminated. 

Videos, posts and memes often portrayed Brazil’s northeast — which counts a higher population of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian residents, and where President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received a

São Paulo, Brazil — The most polarized election in Brazil’s history was also the most vile on the internet. Reports of xenophobia, religious intolerance and misogyny increased by 39.3% compared to 2021, according to a new study from Safernet, an organization that monitors hate speech online. For Safernet, the numbers indicate that the elections are like a trigger for the advancement of hate speech on the internet, especially on social media.

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