On the social networks

Image: Hamilton Grimaldi


The use of social media in what was the most digitized election in the history of Brazil

Twitter membership grew in the 2020 elections. Focusing on candidates who reached the second round, 82,4% had used the platform since the beginning of the election campaign on September 27. This massive use demonstrates the understanding of candidates representing the various parties on the spectrum that being on Twitter is important for achieving electoral success.

Use of social media in the 2020 elections

The use of social media was notorious in what was the most digitized election in Brazil. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok were some of the platforms used by female and male candidates for re-election and their challengers.

If all media fulfill a specific mission, Twitter proves to be important, given that it has been a central social media in the field of politics and that it has a lot of influence, including the mass media in the construction of agendas.

Some researchers have claimed that we are seeing a phenomenon called Twittocracy, that is, a political-communicational model in which official pronouncements, both in terms of domestic policy and foreign policy, are made on Twitter. Since from a logic closer to microblogging, Twitter users write their diaries in a rapid flow with posts of up to 280 characters and display their opinions and political actions in that space, transforming their account into “official” channels for knowledge of their perspectives and ideas.

Use of twitter by female candidates

We draw attention here to the use made by women who are applying for municipal executives. This is because, given the reality of political gender violence suffered by female candidates in 2020, as demonstrated in article published here in the Observatory, Twitter stands as an important communicational possibility for the demarcation of their positions during the elections.

In total, five women are in disputes in the capitals in the second round. They are: Delegate Danielle (Cidadania) in Aracaju, Cristiane Lopes (PP) in Porto Velho, Marília Arraes (PT) in Recife, Manuela D'Ávila (PCdoB) in Porto Alegre and Maria do Socorro Neri (PSB) in Rio Branco.

It is noteworthy that of the five women in the second round election, only Marília Arraes and Manuela D'Ávila have used Twitter in their respective campaigns, that is, 40% of them, well below the general average observed. It is also possible to identify that the two candidates who use Twitter the most are those affiliated to the most left parties, PCdoB and PT. The ideological position follows criteria pointed out in a text published by the Observatory of Elections.

Specifically regarding the two candidates, Manuela D'Ávila was the one who used Twitter the most, making 1580 tweets between the 1st day of the campaign and November 27, the penultimate day of the campaign, and PT candidate Marília Arraes made 603 tweets.

Manuela D´Avila and Marília: the most tweeted candidates

In the cloud of most used terms, Manuela D'Ávila made special use of her hashtag #AgoraÉManuela65, which demonstrates a salient use of one of the affordances most important on Twitter to bring similar posts together. In addition, the name of the capital Porto Alegre appears strongly. Words like, “city”, “together”, “our” and “thank you” are also salient.

From searches for mentions by specific figures, it can be seen that Manuela never once mentioned Lula on her Twitter during the campaign, while she mentioned allies such as Boulos 63 times and Marília Arraes nine times. This demonstrates an effort to adhere to the figures of the new generation of the left and a distance from actors who generate controversy, such as Lula, and who could make her lose votes. Manuela also mentioned Jair Bolsonaro 18 times, which is understood as a manifestation of the construction of a “us x them”, that is, the demarcation of her political position.

Marília Arraes, who will also fight a fierce dispute on Sunday, used Twitter to demonstrate her position. The word most used by her was “Recife”, followed by “our”, “city”, “campaign”. Replicating the search for important political actors, Marília, unlike Manuela, mentions Lula 74 times, demonstrating that she has been using the former president's political capital in the Northeast region and in Recife to raise votes. In addition, Marília Arraes cited Boulos 19 times and Manuela D'Ávila ten times, also linking up with young left-wing figures. Finally, for marking her political positions, Marília cited Bolsonaro 14 times and criticized the policies adopted by the current president.

Helga Almeida is a professor at the Federal University of Vale do São Francisco (UNIVASF).

Luciana Santana is a professor at the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL).

Raquel de Souza is a graduate student in Social Sciences at the Federal University of Vale do São Francisco (UNIVASF).

Originally published on 2020 Election Observatory from the INCT.


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