This Twitter Censorship Campaign Encourages Online Protest Through the Use of NFTs

Inspired by Brazilian newspapers that printed cake recipes to protest government censorship during the country’s 1964-85 dictatorship, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism worked with FCB to create cryptographic cakes to identify and report government officials who have blocked Brazilian citizens on Twitter.

The campaign comes as Brazil’s media is once again being muzzled by the Bolsonaro government, with the country falling in the global ranking of freedom of the press. 

Thanks to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and the website Congresso em Foco, journalists, lawyers and members of the country’s scientific community now have their “cake” and can tweet it too.

Working with FCB Brasil and its creative data arm FCB/SIX, Abraji devised unique pieces of cake-inspired crypto-art that journalists and people from other professions including educators and scientists can use on their Twitter profile to indicate to followers that they have been blocked by the country’s government officials.

To obtain one of the cryptographic cakes, simply log-in to the dedicated website, which detects if their Twitter account has been blocked by at least one of the 600 people currently holding public office in the country—including the president and vice-president, as well as various secretaries and ministers of state.

For those who have been blocked, the system generates a unique cryptographic cake using non-fungible token technology, signifying that it is certified and unique. The shape and ingredients for the cryptographic cake also convey specific information: A square cake, for example, signifies that someone has been blocked by a congressman, while caramel frosting indicates that they were blocked for opposing political views, while the cake’s texture indicates their professional field (eg: biologist, journalist, etc.).

NFT’s help create a type of “digital police report” that is blockchain-certified and records not only the person who was blocked, but also the person who blocked them, and the reason for the block. Once registered to the blockchain, each NFT is impossible to censor or erase.

The “SweetBlock” campaign was inspired by the cake recipes that the country’s newspapers would publish to protest articles that had been censored by the country’s repressive military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985.

View a case study of the project

There is already a gallery of cakes that includes journalists blocked by government officials, including Amanda Audi, executive director of the Congress em Foco. “The tool found that I was blocked by the president, two ministers of state, one senator and two congressmen, so I have four distinct and unique cakes,” said Audi. “We hope this initiative will help denounce the arbitrary decision to block people’s access to social network accounts of public figures.”

The most blocked professions are journalists (19%), lawyers (9.5%) and advertising professionals (7.5%), with other professionals blocked include educators (7%), business administrators (6%) and scientists, doctors and healthcare workers (3%).

“Since April 2021, ‘SweetBlock’ identified 412 blocks, 78 of these being on journalists,” says Cristina Zahar, Abraji Executive Secretary. “When this happens, the journalists are hindered in their ability to access information that is in the public’s interest, especially when the accounts are used for official government communications. With the campaign, we want to call attention to the problem and promote discussions on the subject.”

The monitoring tool indicates that President Jair Bolsonaro is the government official who most blocks people on Twitter, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all blocks (24%) and blocking on average 240 times more users than a federal deputy. The data also found that the leading reason for being blocked by a politician is criticism of their conduct.

To check whether you’ve been blocked and take part in the campaign, visit: https://bolosantiblock.com.br/

 

 

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