Public Prosecutor in São Paulo, Brazil to investigate threats against journalists on the internet

The Public Prosecutor of the State of São Paulo wants to identify and punish those who threaten or persecute journalists on social networks. From now on, it will be possible to make a complaint to the entity’s Center for Combating Cybercrime, which wants to identify groups that incite the actions of “haters.” However, the change is valid only for the state of São Paulo.

The center coordinator, prosecutor Paulo Marco Ferreira Lima, said haters feel more freedom to act because of the feeling of impunity. "We are not prepared for the demand [of complaints that may come]. But if we allow at least for the possibility that someone thinks twice before 'hating' someone else, we'll be helping," Lima told El País.

The decision was made after it was reported that journalist Mauro Cezar Pereira, ESPN sports commentator and columnist for Estado de S. Paulo, was the target of threats and insults. Consequently, on Sept. 25, the public prosecutor activated the Fifth Police Delegation of Repression and Analysis of Crimes of Sports Intolerance, according to Abraji.

"It came to a head last year when they discovered my phone number and I started receiving threats, insults in great quantities, in every possible way. And that did not stop, I was put into WhatsApp football fans groups without my consent. They organized to send simultaneous messages to me at specific times, while I was on air," the journalist told Uol Esporte.

To report threats, the public prosecutor recommends that journalists save all content they receive, including links. Reports must be sent to the Ombudsman's Office, which receives complaints by e-mail, letter, in person and through the site's form.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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