Digital Activism Group Sleeping Giants Comes out of Anonymity

'The extreme right publishes more disinformation than the left', says founder

São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro

The Sleeping Giants Brazil (SGB) social media profile, launched seven months ago, has caused a tsunami on far-right sites by forcing advertising companies to withdraw their ads. The situation occurs when the SGB publishes, on its Twitter or its Instagram, an alert for a certain company, informing that it is advertising on fake news sites.

Whether they disagree with the content or the public constraint created, companies remove their ads, demonetizing the sites. Until this Sunday (13), the group operated anonymously, under the justification that they receive daily death threats. They resolved, however, to reveal their identity to Folha.

SÃO PAULO, SP, BRASIL, 08-12-2020: Mayara and Leonardo (Foto: Eduardo Anizelli/ Folhapress, ILUSTRADA/MÔNICA BERGAMO) - Folhapress

The group was founded by just two people, a 22-year-old couple from Ponta Grossa, in Paraná. Leonardo de Carvalho Leal and Mayara Stelle live with their parents and have been dating since they were 15.

They are law students at federal college in the city, and both live today on the emergency aid that the government grants to millions of Brazilians. They say that there is no one behind them and that they receive nothing for their work.

"We believe that disinformation in relation to the pandemic is the main fake news being promoted at the moment," says Stelle, who assesses that currently, "the extreme right has a much greater scope for disinformation than the left."

To date, they estimate that they have taken the equivalent of R$ 1.5 million from three news sites and two channels. The SGB has 410 thousand followers on Twitter and 170 thousand on Instagram.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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