19 Nov

#DebateEnRedes: What has been discussed on Twitter around Braian Gallo, head of a polling station in Moreno who was discriminated?

Por Ariel Riera, Celeste Gómez Wagner and Mariela García

Updated 27 de December, 2019 at 12:28 pm

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

  • The peak of interactions coincided with a meeting between the president-elect Alberto Fernández and the young man.
  • The word “discrimination” was present in 18% of the nearly 200 thousand tweets related to the subject.
  • The two most retweeted messages were shared by the president-elect of Frente de Todos.

During the elections on October 27, a meme became viral, spreading a discriminatory message against a young man who participated as supervisor of a polling station in Colégio no. 36 of Moreno. This man was Braian Gallo, aged 22 years. His image was spread in social networks with captions connecting his appearance and clothing to criminals and to a possible fraud in the elections.

After the repercussions of this case, the president-elect Alberto Fernández met the young man on October 30. In addition, Magdalena Odarda, national senator of Frente de Todos from the province of Río Negro, filed a charge on the same day regarding the case before the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI), which is in process, as confirmed by the Institute to this communication vehicle.

Discriminatory messages, criticism, and tweets defending Gallo multiplied on Twitter. Via Trendsmap (a tool that allows the analysis of large amounts of tweets about a specific topic), Chequeado studied posts shared from October 27 at 8:00 AM, when the elections started, to November 7 at noon, when a publication informed that the young man got a job in a shoe factory in Moreno, Buenos Aires.

About this event, Braian confirmed to this communication vehicle that it was not him, but his girlfriend who got a job there, and the company fired her three days later. He has made the preparatory studies to start as a waiter in the refectory of Ente Nacional Regulador del Gas (Enargas) in December.

In the period analyzed, 199,600 tweets were published. The peak of shares was on Wednesday, October 30, at 1:00 PM, when the president-elect met Gallo.

Interactions on Twitter

Source: Elaborated by Chequeado based on the amount of interactions on Twitter about Braian Gallo between October 27 and November 7, 2019, using the tool Trendsmap.

The most frequent words in tweets were “station” (22%), “head” (21%), “all” and “discrimination” (18%), and “alberto” (17%). “Discriminated” was present in 8% of messages. It is important to clarify that the use of these words does not indicate whether the content of messages is discriminatory (for example, the sentence “he was not discriminated” contains one of the words, but with the opposite meaning).

Law no. 23.592 provides protection against discriminatory acts or omissions based on race, religion, ideology, political opinion, economic status, social status, or physical characteristics. On the Internet, any content considered discriminatory (photo, meme, comment) can be reported to INADI. According to the Institute, the number of complaints about the online environment has a growing trend: in the total number of cases reported to INADI, the percentage of occurrences in the Internet changed from 5% in 2008 to 35% in 2017. Half of the complaints of online discrimination concerned content published on Facebook, and 5.6% on Twitter.

In the period analyzed, one of the top-ranked hashtags on Twitter was “#operaciongorrita” (“operation cap”, with 5.1%), which was used in messages that questioned whether Braian had been the head of a ballot table and indicated he used a cap. These messages emphasized that he was not among the supervisors and was part of a Kirchnerian operation to affect the results of the elections.

Gallo was head of a polling station in Moreno, as indicated in the electoral records. In addition, Chequeado proved that he was registered in the list of supervisors since the primary elections (PASO). The records of the Argentine Mail Services indicate that the payment for supervisors in the primary elections has been made already (see here and here). Although the commission for the October elections is not yet available, the National Electoral Chamber confirmed to this communication vehicle that the call to be supervisor of a polling station and the official list include the primary elections, the general elections, and a possible second round.

Another fact that became viral on Twitter was the militancy of Gallo in the Evita movement led by Emilio Pérsico, which, according to some users (see here, here, and here), would prevent him from being a supervisor of a polling station. The mayor-elect of Moreno of Frente de Todos, Mariel Fernández, confirmed that Gallo “participates in our political space” and defended he was called by the electoral commission to be the supervisor of a polling station, as he did in other occasions. About this, Gallo shared with Chequeado the telegram sent by the Federal Court no. 1 with electoral jurisdiction in the district of Buenos Aires, which proves his claim.

Source: image sent by Gallo to Chequeado.

The National Electoral Code requires that all supervisors be eligible to vote, adults, live where they will work, and are able to read and write. Despite these criteria, in 2007, the Chamber agreed to exclude “voters affiliated to any political group” of the selection, except “in case of good reasons to justify their participation.” A good reason is that those selected were independent of political groups.

In the case of Gallo, besides his militancy, he is not registered in any group of the National Register of People Affiliated to Political Parties. The Chamber even identified this exclusion by affiliation in an agreement on October 24, 2019, since several districts “have prohibited that all polling stations were supervised by citizens non-affiliated and, at the same time, duly skilled for the job.”

Other very common hashtag was “#agrietados” (“cracked”, a hashtag proposed on October 29 by Minuto Uno, a program hosted by Gustavo Sylvestre in C5N), which was present in 4.2% of tweets. “#todossomosbrian” (“we are all Brian”, with 3%) and “#briansomostodos” (“Brian is all of us”, with 1.2%) were the next top-ranked hashtags in the ranking of the most used hashtags. Both hashtags coincided with Fernández’s words on October 29: he posted a link to a note by Clarín and said “the country will soon leave behind prejudice and discrimination. We are all Brian.” This message was the most retweeted about the subject, with 23 thousand shares and bookmarked 100 thousand times.

The second most shared tweet was also published by the president-elect, after his meeting with Gallo in his office on Rua México, 300. “People said meeting him would sound opportunist. If this is an opportunity to leave aside our prejudices, it is welcome,” he said, receiving 14.160 retweets and more than 77 thousand likes. In the photo, Fernández appears wearing Braian’s cap backwards, which prompted memes and other posts.

The third most shared message was posted by @EriDai_A, who has been active since 2010 and has 219 followers. Her tweet shared a video of a group of students of Colégio Emmaus (a private religious educational institution in El Palomar) which showed someone pointing a gun at a teacher in the classroom. “Let’s make it viral, let’s judge as they did with #Brian, let’s make the same movement regardless of economic status,” her tweet proposed, comparing the two cases.

Lastly, the account that registered the highest activity was @EzequielSalasOk, with 9.6 thousand followers. This user describes himself as a “Student at UNT [National University of Tucumán]. Reader. Opinologist. Militant of reality.” He has been active since 2016. The second most active account was the aforementioned @EriDai_A, and the third was @Lautiroman1995, “BA in Journalism”, active since 2010 and with 289 thousand followers.

(*) The e-mail of INADI’s Internet Observatory is observatoriointernet@inadi.gob.ar. If you have suffered an act of discrimination on the Internet, you can contact INADI via phone 0800-999-2345 (free call), website www.argentina.gob.ar/inadi, or in person at the head office of the institute (Avenida de Mayo 1401, Buenos Aires) or in any of the 23 provincial delegations around the country.

* 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.