Facebook Faced Fines After Failing to Globally Block 12 Allies of President Bolsonaro

Facebook plans to appeal the order on the grounds that it threatens human rights

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Under growing pressure to squash hate speech and misinformation, Facebook has been known for cracking down on fake news on the platform, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. In May this year, Facebook was ordered by Brazil’s Supreme Court to suspend the accounts of 12 allies of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Among them are politician Roberto Jefferson and Luciano Hang, one of Brazil’s best known businessmen.

Apparently, these accounts were spreading misinformation about judges in the country. Despite believing that it was a threat to freedom of speech and an “extreme” measure, Facebook originally compiled with plans to eventually appeal the order, only blocking these accounts in Brazil. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge that they “[restricted] the ability for the target Pages and Profiles to be seen from IP locations in Brazil.”

As Facebook did not block these accounts globally, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the social media giant had not fully complied with the terms of the order. Facebook has been fined 1.92m reais ($368,000; £280,000) for refusing to block worldwide access to the accounts and a further 100,000 reais for each day it failed to comply, reports BBC

“Given the threat of criminal liability to a local employee, at this point we see no other alternative than complying with the decision by blocking the accounts globally, while we appeal to the Supreme Court,” the spokesperson explained to The Verge. 

Twitter was also ordered by the Supreme Court to remove 16 accounts, although it’s unclear whether or not they received any fine. Twitter told The Verge that they had complied but are also hoping to appeal the order.