24 Oct

#DebateEnRedes: Del Caño was the most Googled candidate during the second debate

Por Ariel Riera, Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 28 de January, 2020 at 4:10 pm

If you only have a few seconds, read these lines:

  • The leader of the Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (the Workers’ Left Front, or FIT) generated more search results than the other five candidates, especially at the end of the debate.
  • Searching for something does not mean support or voting intention, but curiosity.
  • Disinformation about Macri’s supposed earphone also generated many searches on Google.

Macri audífono” (Macri earphone, regarding the false information that said the President used an earphone to receive help), “Quién es Juan Gómez Centurión” (Who is Juan Gómez Centurión), “Nicolás del Caño audi” (due to his accusation of having a car of that brand, which the FIT candidate denies and which is not listed in his property statement), “Alberto Fernández carta natal” (Alberto Fernández astrology chart) and “memes de Alberto Fernández” (memes about Alberto Fernández) were the top five searches on Google in Argentina during the second presidential debate, according to Juan Manuel Lucero, the coordinator of Google News Lab.

Among the six presidential candidates, users in the country searched mostly for Nicolás del Caño (22%), Mauricio Macri (21%), Juan José Gómez Centurión (17%), José Luis Espert (15%), Roberto Lavagna (15%) and Alberto Fernández (10%).

Search interest about the candidates during the second debate
Search data betweetn 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. In Argentina

Search interest is not the same as a positive evaluation or voting intention. A candidate might be the most searched because he or she is not well known, for example. Martín Becerra, PhD in Computer Science at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, calls this distance between search interest and social, political and economic decisions “dissonance”. Lucero agrees and adds that “the searches reflect someone’s interest or curiosity about a candidate. The reasons are multiple, but among them, the intention to vote for that candidate is the least likely”.

The highest peak of searches among the six members of the debate corresponded to the FIT candidate.  For reference, the Google Trends tool reflects “the search interest regarding the maximum value of a graph in a certain region and period”. What does that mean? It means the terms inserted are compared with each other proportionally to the number of searches inside that time and space. This means 100 is the maximum number of searches, and the remaining numbers are measured from this total. For instance, if a candidate appears as XX, this means that, on that moment, the searches were XX% of the highest peak in the period.

Search interest about the candidates during the debate

Topics from left to right: 

Employment, production and infrastructure
Federalism, institutional quality and the role of the State
Social development, the environment and housing. 

“The number 100 is a relative reference point, which is why it is important to contextualize the data”, comparing it with other common terms in order to understand whether something is a trend, Lucero explained to Chequeado, also pointing out that on Sunday night, the term “debate” was even more searched than “Youtube”, while a few days later “Youtube” was “searched 56 times more”.

* The Digital Democracy Room is a project of FGV DAPP in Brazil in partnership with Chequeado, Linterna Verde and Ojo Público. It’s goal is to monitor and analyze the digital conversations regarding the electoral context.

The analysis is available the website of Chequeado here.