SOCIAL MEDIA | Facebook Suspends Disinformation Network Tied To Staff Of Brazil’s Bolsonaro

BUCHAREST | ROMANIA – Facebook Inc on Wednesday suspended a network of social media accounts it said were used to spread divisive political messages online by employees of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and two of  his sons.

The company said that despite efforts to disguise who was behind the activity, it found links to staff of two Brazilian lawmakers, as well as the president and his sons, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro and Senator Flavio Bolsonaro.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the accounts were removed for using fake personas and other types of ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’, which violated the company’s rules.

He said there was no evidence the politicians themselves had operated the accounts. ‘What we can prove is that employees of those offices are engaged on our platforms in this type of behavior’, he told Reuters ahead of the announcement on the company’s blog.

Facebook said it has also suspended three other network on Wednesday, including one it attributed to Roger Stone, a longtime friend and adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Brazilian president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The allegations by Facebook add to a burgeoning political crisis in Brazil, where Bolsonaro’s sons and supporters have been accused of running a coordinated online campaign to smear the president’s opponents.

The accusations have spurred a congressional inquiry and a separate Supreme Court investigation into so-called ‘fake news attacks’ on the country’s judiciary, which led to police raids in May on the homes and offices of Bolsonaro allies.

Bolsonaro, who is also under mounting criticism over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, has said the court’s investigation is unconstitutional and risks establishing censorship in Brazil by policing what people can say online.

Facebook has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to better police how political groups use its platform. Hundreds of advertisers have joined a boycott aimed at forcing the company to block hate speech on its site, and multiple employees walked out last month over CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to challenge inflammatory posts Trump.

Gleicher said his team had identified and suspended more than 80 accounts of Facebook and its photo-sharing site, Instagram, as part of the Brazilian network. The accounts had amassed 1.8 million followers, he said, and some dated back to 2018.

Researchers at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, who spend a week analyzing the activity identified by Facebook, said they had found five current and formers political staffers who registered and operated the accounts.

Some of those accounts posed as fake Brazilians and news outlets to spread ‘hyper-partisan views’ supporting Bolsonaro and attacking his critics, said researcher Luiza Bandeira. Their targets included  opposition lawmakers, former ministers and members of Brazil’s Supreme Court.

More recently, the accounts also amplified Bolsonaro’s claims that the risks of the coronavirus pandemic are exaggerated. The disease has killed more than 66,000 people in Brazil and Bolsonaro himself tested positive this week.

‘We have known for a long time that when people disagree with Bolsonaro they are targeted by this machine that uses online disinformation to mock and discredit them’, said Bandeira.

‘So knowing now that part of these attacks are coming from people directly related to the Bolsonaro family, that explains a lot’.


Travel | Honduras To Reopen Domestic And International Flights In Mid-August

MILAN | ITALY – Honduras announced Tuesday it will reopen its airports to domestic and international flights in mid-August, after a nearly five-month closure due to the pandemic. The reopening of the airport is part of the government’s efforts to reactivate the economy, which is expected to contract between 7% and 8%, according to the … Continue reading Travel | Honduras To Reopen Domestic And International Flights In Mid-August

BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says Beirut Explosion Seems To Be ‘Bomb Of Some King’

MILAN | ITALY – President Donald Trump on Tuesday cast a massive explosion that killed dozens of people and wounded thousands in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, as a possible attack and offered U.S. help. ‘The United States ready to assist Lebanon’, Trump said at a White House briefing. ‘We will be there to help. It looks … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says Beirut Explosion Seems To Be ‘Bomb Of Some King’

BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says U.S. Ready To Assist Lebanon After ‘Terrible Attack’

MILAN | ITALY – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he sent his sympathies to Lebanon for the dozens of people killed and thousands wounded in a massive explosion in Beirut, which he cast as an attack, and offered U.S. help. ‘The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon’, Trump said at a White House … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says U.S. Ready To Assist Lebanon After ‘Terrible Attack’

BREAKING NEWS | U.K. PM Johnson Offers Support To Beirut After Massive Blast

LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain stood ready to provide any support it could to help Beirut after a massive explosion in the city’s port area killed 25 people and injured more than 2,500. ‘The pictures and videos from Beirut  tonight are shocking’, Johnson wrote on Twitter. ‘All of my thoughts and prayer … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | U.K. PM Johnson Offers Support To Beirut After Massive Blast

BREAKING NEWS | Massive Blast Rips Through Beirut, Killing 50 And Injuring Thousands

BEIRUT | LEBANON – A huge explosion in port warehouses near central Beirut Killed more than 50 people, injured over 2,750 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital. Officials expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Massive Blast Rips Through Beirut, Killing 50 And Injuring Thousands

BREAKING NEWS | Saudi Arabia Following With Great Concern Consequences Of Beirut’s Explosion: SPA

RIYADH  | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that is it following with great concern the consequences of Beirut’s port explosion, according to the state news agency. The statement also affirmed the kingdom’s full support and solidarity with the Lebanese people. The death toll from a massive explosion in Beirut  on … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Saudi Arabia Following With Great Concern Consequences Of Beirut’s Explosion: SPA

TRAVEL | Jordan Delays Resuming International Flight After COVID-19 Surge Abroad

AMMAN – Jordan on Tuesday postponed a resumption of international flight services that was planned for Wednesday almost five months after they were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said. Civil Aviation Commission chief Haitham Mistro has announced last month that Queen Alia International Airport outside the capital Amman would reopen on Aug.5 for … Continue reading TRAVEL | Jordan Delays Resuming International Flight After COVID-19 Surge Abroad

SPORT | Red Card For Virus As Saudi Pro League Returns With Riyadh Derby

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – The most popular rivalry in the Saudi Pro League (SPL) will take center stage as Al-Nassr host Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with safety precautions to allow the safe return of football in the Kingdom. The eagerness for football’s return will be highlighted when players arrive fully kitted at King Fahd Stadium, … Continue reading SPORT | Red Card For Virus As Saudi Pro League Returns With Riyadh Derby

ROYALS | Former King Juan Carlos To Leave Spain Amid Corruption Allegations

MADRID – Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has told his son, King Felipe, that he is leaving the country, the Royal House said on Monday, in a dramatic move designed to protect the monarchy after corruption allegations against him surfaced. In June, the Spanish Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement in a … Continue reading ROYALS | Former King Juan Carlos To Leave Spain Amid Corruption Allegations

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