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Bolsonaro’s Ban on Removing Social Media Posts Is Overturned in Brazil

  • September 16, 2021

Florida passed a law in May that sought to block social networks from removing political candidates from their sites, but a federal judge blocked it a month later. The Texas governor signed a similar law last week.

In Brazil, the rules issued by Mr. Bolsonaro faced long odds.

Such provisional measures expire in 120 days unless Brazil’s Congress make them permanent. Instead, the Senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco, sent them back to Mr. Bolsonaro in just over a week, effectively killing the measure.

Both the Senate president and the Supreme Court said that the rules should not have been issued as a provisional measure because they were not addressing an urgent situation and because Congress was debating a bill to regulate social networks.

They also said the rules would have been bad for the country, said Carlos Affonso Souza, a professor at Rio de Janeiro State University who specializes in internet law. “There was a whole worry that the online environment could get more toxic and more dangerous,” he said.

Mr. Affonso Souza said the Senate’s decision restricted Mr. Bolsonaro from issuing the same rules this year, but he could try again in 2022.

Given the presidential election next year, and Mr. Bolsonaro’s low poll numbers, Mr. Santoro said he expected the president to try something else to ensure he can continue to use the internet to spread his message.

“He’s not going to quit this fight that easily,” he said. “The internet is very important to him.”

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