Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

The scope and impacts of the spread of fake news on democracy are being felt and analyzed worldwide. In the United States, one bold initiative proposed to cut the flow of digital advertising money to fake news websites by demanding accountability from the advertisers. 

In practice, the Sleeping Giants movement uses social networks to publicly alert companies that use Google’s AdWord service that their brands appear on websites notoriously involved in the spread of fake news. 

In Brazil, the owner of a website accused of publishing fake news filed a lawsuit against Twitter, one of the social networks used by the arm of Sleeping Giants in Brazil. The lawsuit demanded the release of personal data related to the account. In a preliminary ruling, Twitter was required to provide the IP and logical port numbers and the access registration data of the people responsible for the profile. 

The social network appealed, but lost and ended up abiding by the court order. Conectas and other organizations that work on the defense of digital rights requested admission as amicus curiae, but their request was denied. According to these organizations, the case poses a risk not only to freedom of expression, which is protected by the Constitution, but also to the rights guaranteed in the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet and the physical integrity of the people who own these accounts

The case could set a negative precedent and undermine freedom of expression and the principles of the Framework, namely the exercise of citizenship in the digital world, plurality and diversity, and privacy protection, as well as impact the debate on the intentional spread of fake news.

Technical information

  • Case: ACP 1002062-40.2020.4.01.4200
  • Court: State Court of Rio Grande do Sul
  • Status: Twitter accepted the ruling and provided the requested information. Conectas and partner organizations were not granted amicus curiae status by the judge in the case.
  • Procedure:
    • 9/22/20: Request for admission as amicus curiae