Brazilians take to Instagram to identify far-right rioters
In just 24 hours, he reached 1.1 million followers.
“I’m not at all surprised that this narrative happened so quickly,” says David Nemer, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and associate professor at Harvard University. “We all knew [the insurrectionists] have organized themselves in WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels, as they are all open. Everything was announced on social networks. It was planned. There was no secret. »
The groups that mounted the attack are supporters of former right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro. Despite the lack of evidence of fraud, they do not accept the legitimacy of the recent election result, which returned leftist Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to power. They camped outside military barracks across the country in protest before being bussed to the capital for the uprising.
As they rampaged around the lawns of Brazil’s federal government and inside its congress, supreme court and presidential palace, the rioters left a vast trail of posts, videos and photos in their wake. . They shared their actions on public social media platforms and private messaging apps. Dozens of these images were collected and published by Contragolpe Brasil. In each photo, people’s faces are visible. Their clothes are almost always yellow and green, the colors of the Brazilian flag, which Bolsonaro supporters say represents their love for their country and their attempt to take it back on the left.
Eventually, the leaders of Contragolpe Brasil, who remain anonymous (interview requests for this story went unanswered), called for people to start sending private messages with photos and identifying details. They also asked people to send the information to the authorities.
The Instagram account is not the only participatory effort underway in Brazil to identify the rioters. Agência Lupa, a fact-checking agency, created a reader-generated database of text, photo and video messages from the day of the uprising, with all information sent anonymously and privately.
This method of identifying participants in mass criminal events by scouring social networks for clues is not new. American citizens have done the same to help identify those responsible for the January 6, 2021, uprising. Some have even formed groups, such as Deep State Dogs, to identify those who vandalized the Capitol or assaulted law enforcement and the press. The members of these groups were diverse but had a common goal: accountability.
In Brazil, a similar dynamic emerged.