Rio de Janeiro: A new campaign is giving a hard time to racist trolls in Brazil by plastering billboards in their neighbourhoods with their racist Facebook comments — thanks to a civil rights group run by Afro-Brazilian women.
The group has come up with this novel idea “to educate people that their words have a real impact”.
The campaign — ‘Virtual racism, real consequences’ — is run by Criola, an organisation founded in 1992 and led by black women.
It uses the location tag from Facebook posts to find where the offenders live. The group then buys billboard space in their neighbourhoods and puts the offenders’ comments on it, but blurring out their names and photos.
The project republishes the online comments as a reminder that virtual bullying can have an impact in the real world.
The campaign was launched in Rio de Janeiro after several racist comments were posted on social networking sites against Maria Julia Coutinho, the weather presenter of the most important news show in Brazil on July 3 — the country’s National Day to Combat Racial Discrimination.
Coutinho, the first black weather forecaster on Brazilian prime time television, corrected another anchor on air.
When another news site praised her for getting the terminology correct, many Facebook users responded with a torrent of comments against everything from her hair to her race.
“We wanted to provoke reflection. Does a comment on the internet causes less damage than a direct offence? For those who comment, may be. But for those who suffer it, the prejudice is the same,” says Criola on its official website.
In partnership with billboard media companies, the non-profit group put on the streets real comments posted on Facebook against the journalist.
“I got home stinking of black people,” reads one comment, while another says: “GFY dirty nigga, I dunno u but I wash myself.”
“We omitted names and faces of the authors — we had no intention of exposing the aggressors. We just wanted to raise awareness. This way people can think about the consequences before posting this kind of comment on the internet,” Coutinho says.
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