Anti-rights discourse in Brazilian social media: Digital networks, violence and sex politics

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Jair Bolsonaro's election as president of Brazil in 2018 capitalised on moral panics towards feminism and minority rights. Articulating gender, sexual difference, race and class, that hostility was increasingly felt on online digital networks. This research addresses the role of social media use and architecture in the production and dissemination of hate speech and anti-rights discourse as a fundamental aspect of the current right turn in Brazilian politics. In that context, it also explores emergent feminist and LGBT intersectional responses and struggles to define online violence. 

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About this research

Anti-feminist discourse and sex panics are fundamental pieces of the current conservative turn in Brazilian politics, whose apex was the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of the republic in November 2018. We addressed the role of social media in public controversies over gender, sexuality and feminism in the period between the 2018 presidential election and the municipal elections in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Relentless attacks, whose semantics activate the intersection of gender, sexuality and race, often in the form of hate speech, operate as a form of political violence. Using mixed methods, we analysed digital engagement with anti-rights discourse in the Brazilian social media sphere and assessed the impact of this hostile climate on feminists, LGBTI people and their allies, as well as their individual and collective responses.