Hate Speech During Brazilian Elections

Jair Bolsonaro supporters in Brasilia, Brazil . Photo: Manuel Ortiz Escámez

By Eduardo Paz / Terra 360 – Global Exchange 

A significant increase in hate speech has flourished as the elections progress in Brazil. This clear correlation challenges democracy, targeting the presidential elections. One can observe that during the summer months of June – August, neither the Thematic Index of Hate Speech nor the General Index of Hate Speech underwent a significant increase at a global level through the Twitter platform. However, as of September recordings have escalated 32.64% for the Thematic Index and 11.80% for the General Index. The increase was maintained during the first couple of weeks in October ( 44.66% for the Thematic Index and 10.31% for the General Index). Alarmingly, hate speech directs voters to focus on emotional and identity-based events, rather than making a critical evaluation of the proposals at hand. 

The following analysis of the Thematic Index of Hate Speech indicates that the increase initiated in September denigrates ideology, political parties, religion and mainly sexism.

Sexist Discourse

 Sexist speech stereotypes and discriminates on the basis of sex, mainly against women. Here they are found placing women (including the term itself) on a lower scale than men or other entities. 

Hate speech within identity politics

We have found that the association of hate speech with political discourse obstructs democratic dialogue within society. Furthermore, it divides society into two antagonistic viewpoints that dispute the presidency beyond the candidates concrete proposals. Although identity politics benefit democracy by generating great interest during the elections, many confrontations lead to violence. 

Discourses of religious intolerance

Speeches that promote attacks on groups because of their religious beliefs are very dangerous. Religion is a profound element of identity, and as has been observed historically, religious dissent easily leads to fatal actions between different groups.