With an interesting approach, Brazil may have found a way to shut down racist trolls on the internet, by making sure their actions online come back to bite them in reality. Civil rights organization, Criola, who is run by a group of Afro-Brazilian women have started a campaign that displays racist Facebook or Twitter posts in big letters on billboards.
‘Virtual racism, real consequences’
The campaign called ‘Virtual racism, real consequences’ started after a new weather forecaster was introduced in Brazil. The internet then burst with numerous comments, either specifically toward her or people of African descent in general. Maria Júlia Coutinho was the first black weather forecaster in the country, and her appearance led to numerous viewers spewing out racist comments on the channels social media.
Through geo-location tools, the organization screen-grabbed the comments, and plastered them in huge letters on billboards. Even more, they did it close by to the user’s address. Using geo-location tool, the group was able to track down the users who posted racist comments. Their words were then displayed for all to see.
However, both their pictures and their names were blurred. According to Criola founder, Jurema Werneck, this is because they were not looking to expose the aggressors. Instead, their aim was to spread awareness of the issue, and have people think about the consequences of posting hurtful online comments. However, it’s safe to say that family and friends of the user would recognize them anyway.
It’s nothing new though that the internet does tend to bring out the worst in some people. As Werneck stated, those who often post abusive or insulting comments online believe they can sit in the comfort of their own home, behind the protection of a screen, and say whatever they want with no consequences. For the most part, that is the case. It’s the reason why so many trollers exist, or even worse, those who are not joking in the slightest.
They are often attacking simply because they can, knowing very well that there are no rules to restrict them and without care of the impact of their abusive words. However, Criola means to change that. At least a little. It will not eliminate all offensive posters from the internet, but it would spread awareness that perhaps they should think twice about their actions.
The same could be done for multiple other remarks outside of racism. Homophobia, sexism, and several others, are still present in every day comments across the internet. Sadly though, there isn’t enough space in the world for billboards to post them all.
Image source: kitguru.net