In just 24 hours, he reached 1.1 million followers.
“I’m not at all surprised that this account happened so quickly,” says David Nemer, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and an associate professor at Harvard University. “We all knew it [the insurrectionists] they have been organized in WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels, because they are all open. Everything was announced on social media. It was expected There was no secret.”
The groups that carried out the attack are supporters of former right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro. Despite the lack of evidence of fraud, they do not accept the legitimacy of the recent election result, which returned leftist Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to power. They camped outside military barracks across the country in protest before being bussed to the capital for the uprising.
As they spread across the lawns of Brazil’s federal government and inside its congress, supreme court and presidential palace, the rioters left a 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 published by Contragolpe Brasil. In all the photos you can see people’s faces. His clothes are almost always yellow and green, the colors of Brazil’s flag, which Bolsonaro’s supporters say represent his love for his country and his attempt to win it back from the left.
Finally, those running Contragolpe Brasil, who remain anonymous (requests for interviews for this story went unanswered), appealed for people to start sending private messages with photos and identifying information. They also asked people to send the information to the authorities.
The Instagram account is not the only collective effort being made in Brazil to identify the rioters. Agência Lupa, a fact-checking agency, has created a reader-generated database of text messages, photos and videos from the day of the uprising, with all information submitted anonymously and privately.
This method of identifying participants in mass criminal events by looking for clues on social media is not new. American citizens did the same to help identify those responsible for the January 6, 2021 uprising. Some even formed groups, such as The dogs of the deep state, to identify those who vandalized the Capitol or those who assaulted law enforcement officers and the press. The members of these groups were diverse but had a common goal: accountability.
In Brazil, a similar dynamic has emerged.