25 Oct

#DebateEnRedes: how are the Chile protests being discussed on Twitter in Argentina?

Por Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 28 de January, 2020 at 4:06 pm

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

  • The peak of tweets happened on the day of the demonstration in front of the Chilean consulate in Argentina.
  • One of the most retweeted messaged was posted by the Minister of National Security, Patricia Bullrich.
  • The hashtags used the most were #chile, #repudio, #ChileDesperto and #EstoPasaEnChile.

Since last Friday, many cities in Chile have been in a state of emergency after a series of protests, which started due to increased metro fees in Santiago but escalated into several social demands.  There have been 18 deaths so far, as informed last Wednesday by Rodrigo Ubilla, Subsecretary of the Interior of Chile (see here).

On Saturday, October 19 at midnight, the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, declared a “State of Emergency” in a national network. In accordance with the provisions of the Constitutional Organic Law of the States of Exception (Art. 3), General Javier Iturriaga del Campo was put in charge.

In the midst of a public agenda marked by the elections on October 27, the situation had a repercussion in Argentina. On October 21, a protest against Piñera’s administration happened in front of the Chilean consulate located a few meters away from the Praça de Maio, on Avenue Roque Sáenz Peña, 547. There were incidents between the security forces and a group of demonstrators, who threw Molotov cocktails and beat journalists from LN+, Crónica TV and A24.

The social networks were also a stage for the discussion on how to analyze and understand the situation in Chile. This is an analysis of the interactions on Twitter, based on the methodology developed by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP).

From October 19 at midnight until October 23 at midnight, Twitter users in Argentina shared 36 thousand tweets about Chile, of which 94% were retweets.

Although the frequency of publications remained stable, the peak happened on October 21 between 11:30 p.m. and 11:40 p.m., on the day of the protest in front of the Chilean consulate in Buenos Aires. The volume of interactions decreased after that. The three top messages in terms of number of retweets were published on that day.

One of them was by the Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich (@PatoBullrich), who argued with the national deputy of the Frente por la Vitória (FPV), Gabriela Cerruti (@gabicerru). Cerruti supposedly published a tweet in which she considered that the conflicts in Chile and in Ecuador were not happening in Argentina due to the elections on October 27. The Minister of Security replied that the opposition “wants Argentina burned down, divided and violent”, and then referred to the Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy (CTEP), led by Juan Grabois, as supposedly having participated of the “aggression on the Chilean consulate”. This second tweet by the Cambiemos employee obtained 5,430 retweets and was bookmarked 12,585 times, coming in second place in number of shares.

At the top of the ranking of retweets was a message by Manuel Adorni (@madorni), an economist and columnist for Infobae and other media vehicles. His tweet was for “supporting the security forces” after someone threw a Molotov cocktail during a protest in the Chilean consulate. In his tweet, Adorni shared an excerpt of the live stream by channel C5N. The tweet reached 9,099 shares and 13,627 likes.

Tweet: That was how a retarded person threw a Molotov cocktail against the police during the protest near the Chilean consulate in Argentina. We must identify him and send him to life imprisonment. I don’t want to see any more aggressions against the security forces. The security forces have all my support.

The third most retweeted message was by “quebracho castaña” (@QCastana), a user who has been active since October 2018 and has 5,425 followers. In his tweet, he associated the imprisonments during the protest in front of the consulate with the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) in Venezuela. The message reached 3,391 tweets and was bookmarked 4,786 times.

On the other hand, among the hashtags used the most in the tweets published in Argentina to refer to the situation in Chile, the highlights are #Chile, #Repudio, #ChileDesperto, and #EstoPasaEnChile. In addition, 47% of the messages contained the word “Chile”, and 20% also included the words “consulate”, “police” and “security”. This coincides with the fact that the most shared messages referred to the protest that happened in Buenos Aires.

Lastly, among the most active accounts and the accounts that generated the highest level of interaction, there was a highlight for the FPV senator Anabel Fernández Sagasti (@anabelfsagasti), who published images of a rally in Mendoza in “solidarity with the Chilean people” and denouncing “the violence perpetrated under the provincial government’s orders”. Another highlight was the account of “La Chica Del Pañuelo Verde” (@CaritoMorales04), a Twitter user since 2012 who has 4,109 followers and is usually mentioned in publications about feminism (see here and here); and “PIENSA.PRENSA” (@PiensaPrensa), a Chilean communication vehicle that defines itself as independent and self-managed, and has more than 110 thousand followers.

* 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.