One of Brazil’s Biggest YouTubers Took on the Country’s President. Now He’s in Fear for His Life.

Politicians are realizing the power YouTubers hold over viewers — right as those same creators are finding their voice

Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
FFWD
Published in
5 min readOct 14, 2019

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Image: Felipe Neto/Chris Stokel-Walker

In September Felipe Neto’s mother was forced to flee Brazil after her son, one of the country’s most famous YouTubers, received countless threats from unnamed masses. It’s a sad but normal occurrence for many digital creators, but the threats Neto’s mother received were different: they were stoked by supporters of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro and the evangelical fundamentalist mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcello Crivella.

The YouTuber, one of the biggest in the world with 34 million subscribers, didn’t avoid the mob’s ire, either. He’s been forced to cancel events including a pro-education meeting in Rio de Janeiro, after receiving threats that made him fear for his life and of his relatives.

“In a way, we were expecting that could happen,” Neto says in a rare interview with FFWD. “This is the reflection of a society without education, without study, that ends up falling to a side of hatred, oppression and violence to try to impose what it considers right.”

Neto’s crime? Talking about politics on his YouTube channel — which is normally devoted to humour and entertainment. But as well as talking politics, he also decided to take real action against censorship and bigotry by doing more than just yelling in front of a camera.

Neto used his massive platform to speak out against homophobia and the censorship attempt imposed by Rio de Janeiro mayor Crivella, who tried to prevent the marketing of an X-Men comic book with a LGBT-friendly theme during the city’s Bienal do Livro, an annual book festival.

Crivella was so appalled by the notion that the LGBT-friendly comic book, which featured two characters sharing a gay kiss, was on sale that he ordered every copy of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade in the city be taken off sale, saying in a video posted on Twitter that it contained “sexual content for minors” and his censorship was a way to “protect the minors of our city”.

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Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
FFWD
Writer for

Journalist, PhD in Human Rights (University of Deusto). MA in Communication Sciences, BA in International Relations. www.tsavkko.com.br