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‘A crime of hatred’: disgust over Brazilian mobile phone slavery game

Brazilians have reacted with horror to the news that a mobile phone game in which players were able to buy and sell enslaved people was until recently available to download on Google Play.

Dubbed the ‘Slavery Simulator’ (Simulador de Escravidão), the disturbing game also allowed players to inflict different forms of torture on black characters.

The game, which had no age classification, had reportedly been available since 20 April this year and had been downloaded more than one thousand times. Users reviewed the game positively, with one describing it as “excellent to pass the time but lacking more torture options”.

The game was removed from the Google Play storeon Wednesday but remained available to those who had already downloaded it, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reports.

The existence of of a game making light of slavery was met with outrage and disgust by Brazilians, who denounced it as racist and called on the developer Magnus Games and Google to be held to account.

“Blatant racism!! […] The image illustrating the game has a white man surrounded by black men. It is absurdly violent. Google and the developer must answer for this crime of hatred and racism,” tweeted Renata Souza, a black activist and politician from Rio de Janeiro.

“Racism is not entertainment, it’s a crime!” denounced Quilombo Periférico, a collective mandate of black city councillors in São Paulo.

Racism is an enduring problem in Brazil, which is still coming to terms with the legacy of slavery. The country imported the highest number of enslaved Africans in the Americas – an estimated 4 million – and was also the last in the region to abolish slavery, in 1888.

“At any time your black child could come across a game in which they are reduced to enslavement, and if your child is white, they will be taught through recreational racism to become an enslaver in real life,” said Bruno Cândido, a black lawyer who teaches anti-discriminatory law.

Brazil’s ministry for racial equality said it has contacted the developer and Google to work with them on measures to curb racist content online. Those behind the product will be held legally responsible, the ministry said.

Tech companies in Brazil, including Google, have come under fire recently over their failure to moderate content inciting racism and other types of violence. Brazil’s congress is considering legislation which would put the onus on social media companies and tech platforms to identify and remove criminal and dangerous content.

“The racial equality ministry reiterates its irreversible commitment to eliminating racial inequalities and promoting policies that curb the dissemination of racist content online, in football stadiums, and in society as a whole,” the government said in an online statement, in reference to the recent racist attacks suffered by the Brazilian footballer Vinícius Júnior in Spain.

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