By Lisandra Paraguassu and Jack Stubbs
BRASILIA / LONDON (Reuters) – The Facebook investigation that took down a network of pages linked to the production of fake news took suspicions into the Planalto Palace, with one of the presidential aides, Tercio Arnaud Tomaz, being appointed as one of the operators of the suspended pages, and may increase the pressure in the lawsuits against President Jair Bolsonaro in the TSE.
Author of action for the impeachment of the Bolsonaro-Mourão ticket for the use of false news still being analyzed by the Superior Electoral Court, the PT – whose candidate Fernando Haddad was defeated in the second round by Bolsonaro – informed Reuters that he will petition the court until Friday to request the Facebook report to be included in the process.
According to the TSE, only the party, as the author of the action, can make this request.
The report prepared for Facebook by the Forensic Digital Laboratory of the Atlantic Council, shows that Tercio – who worked with the Bolsonaro campaign’s digital media and today has the position of special advisor to the Presidency – is the creator of the @bolsonaronewsss page on Instagram , which also belongs to Facebook.
The page had about 492 thousand followers and 11 thousand posts. Although it was created anonymously, the researchers managed to trace it to Tercio. According to the report, its content was “misleading in many cases, employing a mixture of half-truths to reach false conclusions”, and attacks on opponents and former allies of the Bolsonaro clan. In the photo, an image of the president.
“Many of these posts were published during working hours, which could be an indication that Tercio Arnaud was posting on this website – which is not officially connected to the Presidency – during official office hours,” adds the report.
Tercio worked directly with councilor Carlos Bolsonaro, son of the president, in his office and was taken to the presidential campaign to help him take care of the then candidate’s social networks. He is often appointed as the head of the “hate office”, a group of young people loyal to the clan, all of whom hold positions in the Planalto Palace, charged with feeding the Bolsonarist networks in defense of the president and attacks on his enemies.
Planalto has always officially denied the existence of the “hate office” and the role of advisors in the production of fake news, or even the involvement of the president and his children with bloggers and digital influencers being investigated in the fake news and acts investigations. anti-democratic.
The identification of Tercio as one of the creators and operators of the false information pages takes them inside the Planalto Palace, but he is not the only one who comes very close to the Bolsonaro clan.
Two parliamentary advisers to deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s son 03, were also identified as authors of fake news pages. Paulo Eduardo Lopes, Paulo Chuchu, would be the author of the page “Brazilian Post”, one of the ones that Facebook identified as one of those that tried to pass through official journalistic sites.
Eduardo Guimarães, another aide to Eduardo, had already been identified by the CPI of Fake News as the author of hateful posts, using equipment from the parliamentary cabinet itself in the Chamber of Deputies.
Another three identified people are directly connected with state deputies from the PSL in Rio and São Paulo, linked to the party’s bolsonarista wing.
“Part of the network was created before the 2018 elections and acted to promote Bolsonaro and attack his opponents during the campaign, sometimes employing hyperpartisan media. This behavior is consistent with reports of how the alleged hate office operates,” report.
“More recently, some of the accounts attacked Congress and the Federal Supreme Court and, like Bolsonaro, sold the idea that Covid-19 was not a serious threat, suggesting that Brazil should not adopt measures of social distance.”
Reuters approached Paulo Eduardo Lopes and Eduardo Guimarães through Eduardo Bolsonaro’s office, without success. Tercio Arnaud also did not answer the calls.
Until mid-afternoon this Friday, the Planalto Palace did not comment on Facebook’s action.
In his Twitter account, Eduardo criticized the action in several posts, accusing Facebook of selling itself to big corporations and of hitchhiking in Fake News inquiries and anti-democratic acts that, according to him, aim to attack the country’s right.
“I defend freedom of expression for everyone, remembering that the persecution of social networks to right-wing profiles, both inside and outside Brazil, is becoming increasingly noticeable, even though there is no crime in the posts / profiles,” wrote the deputy.
Facebook even linked some of the dropped pages to people linked to Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s eldest son, but the digital lab survey failed to find the links. Flávio, however, also complained about the action on Twitter.
“My solidarity with all the profiles that were unfairly censored by Facebook and Instagram – apparently for supporting President Bolsonaro. As soon as they create their new profiles to exercise sacred freedom of expression, let them know in private I will help to publicize them,” he wrote.
Later on Thursday, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP), asked the Minister of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) Alexandre de Moraes, rapporteur of inquiries about fake news and threats to the court, to investigate the pages in support of the president removed by Facebook.
Randolfe asks the minister to “determine the appropriate measures against people already identified by Facebook, as well as to work with the company to share all the data, which can be used in further investigations, especially about who finances and which public agents participate, with the breach of telematic, banking and any other necessary secrets “.
(Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello)