22 Sep

Bolsonaro’s participation at the UN General Assembly in New York mobilizes 1 million tweets in just over 36 hours

Updated 28 de September, 2021 at 3:00 pm

  • Most of the profiles debating on Twitter outside of Brazil criticized the president’s decision not to get the Covid-19 vaccine and not to wear a mask, highlighting that he had to have dinner outside a pizzeria;
  • The foreign group supporting Bolsonaro was centered around conservative profiles in Spanish-speaking countries, mentioning the Brazilian president as an important name in the fight against compulsory vaccination against Covid-19;
  • On Facebook, an image of Bolsonaro eating pizza on the street was criticized by foreign pages, but helped promote his image to negationists in other countries, who defended him in comments on those publications.

Evolution of the general debate about Jair Bolsonaro’s participation at the UN General Assembly on Twitter
Period: September 20th at midnight until September 21st at 3pm

Source: Twitter

Jair Bolsonaro’s (no party) participation at the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) was a highlight on social networks since his arrival in New York, the city hosting the event, on Sunday night (19). Between September 20th and September 21st at 3pm, there were 1.02 million posts on Twitter related to topic, according to a study by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas. The peak of mobilization happened on Tuesday (21) at 11am, when the debate reached 146.3 mentions while the president spoke during the opening ceremony of the Assembly. Opinions about Bolsonaro’s presence and behavior were divided: the hashtag #bolsonarovergonhadobrasil (Bolsonaro is the shame of Brazil) appeared in 59.9 thousand posts, while #bolsonaroun2021 appeared in 28.5 thousand posts and #bolsonaroorgulhodobrasil (Bolsonaro is the pride of Brazil) appeared in 13.5 thousand.

Map of interactions in the foreign debate about Jair Bolsonaro’s participation at the UN General Assembly on Twitter
Period: September 20th at midnight until September 21st at 3pm

Source: Twitter

*The percentages of profiles and interactions were calculated in relation to the four groups identified as international.

Group Analysis

Orange – 15.9% of profiles | 15.5% of interactions
Group mobilized by North-American profiles positioned as defenders of democracy and highlighting the fact that, due to sanitary restrictions at the city of New York, Jair Bolsonaro – who has not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 and does not usually wear a mask – had to enter his hotel through the back door and eat dinner standing outside a pizzeria. Posts in this group classified the Brazilian president as a Trumpist, an anti-vaxxer, and even a dictator.

Purple – 33.1% of profiles | 34.2% of interactions
Group centered around conservative profiles in Spanish-speaking countries, who celebrated Jair Bolsonaro’s arrival at New York, highlighting that the Brazilian president is an important figure of Latin-American conservatism and of the fight against mandatory vaccination against Covid-19. Posts in this group also highlighted an episode when Bolsonaro was allegedly having lunch at a fast food restaurant in New York, when communist leaders preferred to go to luxurious restaurants in the city.

Pink – 44.2% of profiles | 43.5% of interactions
Group containing media channels from the United States, Brazilian profiles and the mayor of New York. They remembered a post made in 2018 by the North-American singer Cher in which she called Jair Bolsonaro a ‘pig’, joking about the fact that the Brazilian president has not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 and strongly disapproving his behavior in the city and his speech during the opening ceremony of the event.

Light Green – 6.8% of profiles | 6.7% of interactions
Group containing Spanish-speaking profiles criticizing Jair Bolsonaro and implying that the Brazilian president represents a health risk for the participants of the UN General Assembly and even for New York citizens. The group highlighted that, because he was not vaccinated, he had to have dinner outside a restaurant, and that the microphone he used during his speech at the opening ceremony had to be disinfected.

Facebook

We carried out an analysis on Facebook in order to explore the reception of Bolsonaro’s UN trip on foreign public pages. We collected 925 publications published on pages in 76 different countries, which generated 50,200 interactions from September 20th at midnight to September 21st at 3pm.

Map of engagement per nationality in foreign public pages on Facebook
Period: September 20th at midnight until September 21st at 3pm

Source: Facebook / Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Communication profiles stood out with a strong level of engagement on Facebook, including the pages The New York Times, UK Prime Minister and DW Español. The page of the North-American newspaper, The New York Times, shared a link stating that the Brazilian president has minimized the Covid-19 pandemic and defended the use of drugs with no scientific evidence, highlighting the fact that Jair Bolsonaro was not vaccinated. The official website of the British Prime Minister, UK Prime Minister, displayed photographs of meetings between the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the Korean President Moon Jae-in, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, and Martin Griffiths, Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations OCHA. The page DW Español, whose content is in Spanish but belongs to the German newspaper Deutsche Welle, commented on the fact that President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) was prohibited from eating a pizza inside a restaurant because he was not vaccinated, did not show a negative test for Covid-19, and did not wear a mask.

The comments in the major publications included criticism as well as support for Jair Bolsonaro, with arguments ranging from denying the existence and severity of the virus to discourses accusing governments of violating citizens’ rights by creating norms mandating the vaccination of the population.

*We used two filters for this analysis: i) exclusion of pages managed by users whose nationality was Brazil; ii) a linguistic filter to remove publications in Portuguese. The collection method included pages with more than 50 thousand likes, as well as smaller pages included by the community of researchers.

 

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