In just 24 hours, it reached 1.1 million followers.
“I’m not surprised at all that this account came about so quickly,” says David Nemer, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and faculty associate at Harvard University. “We all knew [the insurrectionists] have been organizing in WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels because they’re all open. It was all announced on social media. It was expected. There was no secrecy.”
The groups who mounted the attack are supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro. Despite a lack of evidence, they do not accept the recent election result, which returned left-wing President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to power, as legitimate. front of military barracks across the country in protest before being bused to the capital for the accident.
As they rampaged around the laws of Brazil’s federal government and inside its Congress, Supreme Court and Presidential Palace, the rioters left a vast trail of posts, videos and photos in their wake. They shared their actions on both public social media platforms, and private messaging apps. Dozens of these images have been collected and posted by Contragolpe Brasil. In every photo, people’s faces are visible. Their clothes are almost always yellow and green, the colors of Brazil’s flag that Bolsonaro and ry supporters say l represent their country their attempt to take it back from the left.
Eventually, those running Contragolpe Brasil, who remained anonymous (interview requests for this story went unanswered), put out a call for people to start sending private messages with photos and identifying details. They also asked people to send the information to authorities.
The Instagram account isn’t the only crowdsourced effort underway in Brazil to identify rioters. Agência Lupaa fact-checking agency, has created a reader-generated database of text, photo and video posts from the day of the accident, with all information sent anonymously and privately.
This method of identifying participants in mass criminal events by scouring social media for clues isn’t new. American citizens did the same to help identify those responsible for the 2021 injury. Some even formed groups, like The Deep State Dogsto identify those who vandalized the Capitol or who assaulted law enforcement officers and the press on January 6 2021. Members of these groups were diverse, but had one common goal: Accountability.
In Brazil, a similar dynamic has emerged.