The Coalition Against Online Violence Stands in Support of Brazilian Journalists ahead of the National Election

The Coalition Against Online Violence is deeply concerned by the spread of disinformation surrounding the October 2 Brazilian national elections that is contributing to gender-based attacks on independent journalists. We reiterate our support to all Brazilian media reporting on the election accurately and with integrity, and call on social media companies to increase their accountability to curtail mis- and disinformation targeted at journalists around the election. 

Journalists in Brazil have lived in fear of being threatened, sued, beaten, exiled or murdered. In recent years social media has become the fertile ground for attacks against journalists, particularly those targeting women. Baseless and preemptive accusations surrounding the voting process have intensified in the lead up to Sunday’s vote and are amplified on social media, presenting a serious threat to press freedom and information integrity.

From a recent survey, women journalists and journalists of color in Brazil report being attacked more often than their male and white counterparts with sexualized and misogynistic insults and threats of rape and violence. Black journalists, in turn, report being compared to criminals and insulted because of their appearance. In several cases, these attacks have inhibited journalists’ ability to do their job as professionals. As stated in a 2020 survey by UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists, online violence against women “erodes the foundations of journalism, increases threats to journalistic security and undermines freedom of expression.”

The Coalition calls on public and private intermediaries, including broadcasters and social media companies, to secure the information environment ahead of this election by:

  1. Implementing already established policies to safeguard against disinformation, including gendered disinformation;
  2. Supporting independent journalism; and,
  3. Binding themselves to the active mitigation of calls for violence through influence operations.

Social networking sites are currently falling short of their ethical responsibility and explicit commitments to prevent disinformation and hate speech during elections. The Coalition Against Online Violence remains dedicated to holding these companies accountable to bring online violence to an end and protect women journalists’ voices. We stand in solidarity with Brazil.

*The Coalition Against Online Violence is a collection of global organizations working to find better solutions for women journalists facing online abuse, harassment and other forms of digital attack. 

Media Contact: Angie Caballero