The ministers of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) unanimously upheld the decision of minister Maria Claudia Bucchianeri to remove a video from YouTube promoted by the PL, the party of President Jair Bolsonaro.
The ministers agreed with the rapporteur that the video did not expressly indicate that it was content paid for by subtitles that are members of the party coalition. The action was filed in the TSE by the slate of candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and his deputy, Geraldo Alckmin.
According to the file, the removed video would be composed of two moments. At first, in the view of the PT coalition, the video brings attacks on political opponents, among which is Lula, without any indication that it would be electoral propaganda. Also according to the PT coalition, the images cause a dramatic sensation of fear, dread, insecurity and indignation in those who watch, through the use of narration in a mysterious tone and visual and sound effects.
In the second moment, the video would be intended to convey an emotional sensation of visual relief, when the candidate Jair Bolsonaro would be mentioned and the content, finally, identified as electoral propaganda through the campaign logo.
According to the rapporteur, the content of the video itself does not constitute a violation of electoral legislation. She recalled that the boost is allowed, but it must follow rules, which did not occur in the specific case. The TSE requires that the boost contain an indication of the CPF or CNPJ, as well as the unequivocal identification that it is electoral propaganda. For Bucchianeri, these requirements were not met, since she has no express indication, in the entirety of the video, that it is partisan content.
In the vote, Maria Cláudia also drew attention to YouTube’s sponsored business model and to what extent it would be a boost – which is allowed by electoral legislation. According to her, boosting “means expanding prominence and prioritizing certain content”. Therefore, the advertisements displayed on YouTube have a specific format and comprise the obligation for users of the community to necessarily watch a few seconds of the advertised content, with no chance of refusal, before accessing any other video they may have searched for.
The minister cited a situation in which the viewer puts on a cartoon and is forced to watch an election campaign, without being able to jump. For her, the difference in business models can raise debate about whether or not these advertisements fit the concept of boosting.
In the specific case, she says that “Regardless of such a debate [se os anúncios do Youtube seriam ou não impulsionamento], I note that, in the specific case, the advertisement contracted, even if framed in the concept of impetus, was made in an irregular way”, he said. The other ministers did not delve into the debate brought by the minister about YouTube’s business model and whether it is a booster or not.
Flavia Maia – Reporter in Brasilia. It covers the Judiciary, especially the Federal Supreme Court (STF). She was a reporter for the Correio Braziliense newspaper and a communications advisor for the National Confederation of Industry (CNI). She is studying law at the IDP. Email: [email protected]