The latest weapon against racism? Public shaming. A new anti-racism campaign in Brazil is making use of some controversial tactics to stem online hate speech. We know that racism and hate speech online is a big problem and behind the safety of a keyboard people become brave and seem to think they can say whatever they please and not face any real consequence.
The new campaign in Brazil takes racist posts from Facebook users and plasters them on big billboards near to the persons home. The initiative is titled “Virtual racism, real consequences,” and hopes to encourage more people to speak out against racism, ignorant or hateful comments made online instead of simply attributing them to normal internet behaviour.
Jurema Werneck is the founder of the group behind the campaign and said the following.
“Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the Internet, We don’t let that happen. They can’t hide from us, we will find them.”
The group uses geotagging technology to determine where the offenders live and then puts their comment up on a billboard in that neighbourhood. The idea is to make the community shudder when they see the comments locally, names and photos are blurred out of course however people get the message, especially if one of your posts appears up on a billboard.
The campaign has been active since the summer and it began after racist comments were hurled against a popular black weather presenter, Maria Julia Coutinho, after a photo of her appeared on a news stations Facebook page. Werneck is hoping that this campaign will encourage people to think before they decide they can post whatever they feel like.
With so many ways to connect and communicate online, nearly everyone has suffered some kind of abuse on varying levels. The internet may not ever be truly a safe space for all of us, however, lets hope we can start making steps towards a more civil space. Campaigns like this, while they may appear to be somewhat extreme, could be exactly what some people need to think about what they are saying to others when they are interacting online.