Brazil clamps down on social media after school attacks

Brazil clamps down on social media after school attacks

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) and Justice Minister Flavio Dino (R)
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) and Justice Minister Flavio Dino (R). Photo: EVARISTO SA / AFP/File
Source: AFP

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Brazil's government on Wednesday announced new restrictions on social media, aiming to curb an "epidemic" of violent school attacks one week after a hatchet-wielding assailant killed four children.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's justice minister, Flavio Dino, said that web sites will be ordered to take steps to ban content and users who "are promoting or supporting attacks or violence against schools."

Social media companies will also be required to send data to police on all users sharing violent content, and block users who have been banned for sharing violent content from creating new profiles.

Platforms that do not comply may be fined up to 12 million reais ($2.4 million) and possibly have their sites suspended by federal authorities, the minister said.

Last Wednesday four children between four and seven years old were killed in a preschool in Blumenau, a city in southern Santa Catarina state, when a man carrying a hatchet stormed the facility.

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The murders shocked the South American country, where two other attacks on schools -- neither with fatalities -- occurred on Monday and Tuesday.

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"There is an emergency situation which has generated an epidemic of attacks, threats of attacks (and) panic among families and in schools," said Dino, who vowed a "close regulation" of social media in order to contain the threats.

On social media sites and in groups on messaging services such as WhatsApp, users have speculated about potential new violence expected in Brazil on April 20, the anniversary of a 1999 massacre in the US state of Colorado, where shooters slaughtered 12 fellow students and a teacher in Columbine High School.

According to Brazil's justice minister, federal authorities are recommending state and local police reinforce their patrols in coming days given the circulation of posts regarding April 20.

The federal prosecutor's office, meanwhile, asked Twitter on Tuesday to disclose measures the social media giant is taking to reduce content related to inciting violence against schools.

Source: AFP

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