Twitter user in Brazil gets prison sentence for 'inciting prejudice'

After Brazil's president took office, a law student urged the killing of people in the region of the country who voted for her. Now, a federal judge ruled a prison sentence is in order.

A former law student was slapped with a 17-month prison sentence in Brazil's federal court today for using Twitter to "incite prejudice and discrimination" against people from the northeast of the country, according to the Associated Press.

The infraction dates back to November 2010, days after Dilma Rousseff was voted in as Brazil's new president. Angered by the left-wing president's win that was said to have been carried by a majority of votes from residents in the northeast, Mayara Petruso sent out a tweet encouraging people to go kill Brazilians in that part of the country.

"Northeastern is not us. Do a favor to SP [Sao Paulo]: kill a northeasterner, drowned," the tweet read, according to the Telegraph. Petruso then tweeted more of the same.

Acting fast, the country's equivalent of the Bar Association launched a criminal case against Petruso, and it's been in the works ever since.

The northeast of Brazil is a poorer region of the country and is home to a much larger black and mixed-race population than the south where Petruso lived, according to the Telegraph. Rousseff won more than 70 percent of the vote in parts of the northeast.

According to the Associated Press, Petruso confirmed that she posted the tweet because of Rousseff's presidential win. The news source also says that the judge converted her prison sentence to community service and a $250 fine.

This is not the first time Twitter users have entered the courtroom in Brazil. In February, the country's attorney general filed an injunction to block tweets and suspend accounts of Twitter users that warned people about police speed traps, radar locations, and DUI checkpoints.

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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