Anti-racism group shames online trolls with billboards IRL

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

People’s racist Facebook comments are ending up on billboards near their homes.

Afro-Brazilian civil rights group Criola is taking racist comments posted on Twitter or Facebook, identifying the location of the commenter, and then buying billboard space near that person’s home in order to display the comment in huge letters. Even though the names and photos of the ‘offenders’ are pixellated, the campaign hopes it will ‘educate people’ into realising the impact of online racism and hopefully discourage them from doing it again. The campaign, titled “Virtual racism, real consequences” was inspired by a recent incident in which a post on the Facebook page of news show Jornal Nacional was swamped with racist abuse targeted at black weather presenter Maria Julia Coutinho. Jurema Werneck, founder of civil rights organisation, Criola, who are backing the campaign, told the BBC: ‘Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the internet.

You can post things you normally wouldn’t say to someone’s face in real life while hiding behind a screen name, meaning that the person has no way of knowing who you are. According to Brazil’s 2010 census, 7.6 per cent of Brazilians identify as Black while 43 per cent, who may have a degree of black ancestry, identify as mixed-race.

In a bid to put an end to racism, or at least stem its spread, in Brazil there is an anti-racism campaign going on in which racist comments that are posted online, are instead posted onto a billboard. They can’t hide from us, we will find them.” Criola, founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, has a stated mission to “enable Afro-Brazilian women, teenagers and girls to become agents for change in the struggle against racism, sexism, and homophobia, and work for the creation of better conditions of life for the Black population in Brazilian society.” The campaign website says: “We omit names and faces of the authors because we have no intention of exposing anyone. We just want to educate people so that in future they think about the consequences before posting racist comments.” “The action is intended to show that the web is not a free territory for the display of messages of hate, racism and prejudice and that actions will have consequences for their authors.” Whether or not this is an effective campaign remains to be seen, but it certainly does make you think twice about the next time you want to post something nasty online.

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