A Brazilian campaign is making a public statement against racist Facebook and Twitter trolls by posting commenters’ hateful words on billboards near their homes for the world to see.
The campaign, launched in July, is titled “Virtual racism, real consequences” and is an effort to inform the public about the true human costs of racist Internet comments.
The billboards are a direct response a July incident in which a slew of people posted public racist Facebook comments below a photograph of black weather presenter Maria Julia Coutinho.
Criola, a non-government organization that defends the rights of black women in Brazil, developed the billboards alongside agency W3haus, according to a press release.
‘Those people think they can sit in the comfort of their homes and do whatever they want on the Internet,” Criola founder Jurema Werneck told the BBC. “‘We don’t let that happen. They can’t hide from us, we will find them.”
Since many of the people posted comments with their social media geotags enabled, the organization was able to hone in on these users’ statements and post the billboards in their neighborhoods. Billboards feature the posters’ comments, but the user’s name and photo are blurred out.
“We omit names and faces of the authors because we have no intention of exposing anyone. We just want to educate people so that in future they think about the consequences before posting racist comments,” the website says.
One reads “Se tomasse banho direito não encardida,” which, according to the BBC, translates to “If you washed properly, you wouldn’t be so dirty.”
A powerful video in support of the campaign shares the reactions of people in Brazil.
“Us as a society cannot tolerate these kind of comments,” one man said in Portuguese, according to the video’s English-language subtitles. “Whether online or in person, it hurts the same way.”
“We’re all the same,” another said. “The differences in looks are insignificant.”