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Community / Public space

An activist group is displaying racist social media comments on billboards in Brazil

A civil rights group in Brazil has taken a rather unusual approach to tackling racist comments on social media: it’s printed loads of them out and pasted them on billboards around the country.

The “virtual racism, real consequences” campaign has seen posts on Facebook and Twitter advertised on huge boards in order to drive home the fact that these comments, while seemingly transient, have, well, “real consequences”. It is led by Criola, a group founded in 1992 and which is led by black women to defend black women’s rights in a “cross and integrated perspective” .

The group claim that they put posts on boards “near [the] author’s houses” in order to maximise their impact. The name and photo of the social media user, however, is blurred out on each billboard, as the intention isn’t to publicly shame them, but to make them see how public and hurtful their comments were. 

This post uses the racial slur “nego”, and instructs the reader to “GFY [go f**** yourself]… I dunno [about] you but I wash myself”: 


The idea for the campaign came about back in ni the summer, when weather presenter Maria Julia Coutinho was the subject of racial attacks on social media. It happened on 3 July – Brazil’s national day against racist discrimination. Many of the comments displayed on the billboards were directed at Coutinho, including this one, which mocks her name: 


Jurema Werneck, founder of Criola, told the BBC that she wanted to make the users see the reality of their comemnts: 

“Those people [who post abuse online] think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the Internet. We don’t let that happen. They can’t hide from us, we will find them.” 

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