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19 Feb

Del Caño’s picture hugging his brother generated disinformation and homophobic comments on the web

Por Celeste Gómez Wagner

Updated 27 de February, 2020 at 10:50 am

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

  • A picture of the leader of the Frente de Izquierda with his brother was published on Twitter stating that he was actually his partner.  The disinformation prompted almost one thousand tweets.
  • “Del Caño” became a trend on Twitter due to the false content, and the user who published the original tweet celebrated.
  • The picture generated memes and jokes as well as homophobic and discriminatory comments.

Last Friday, a picture of Nicolás del Caño, a national deputy for the PTS-Frente de Izquierda and former presidential candidate, was published on Twitter, in which he can be seen hugging his brother. The image was shared in a tweet that falsely claimed that he was his partner and mentioned his physical similarity with the left-wing leader. The disinformation prompted memes and jokes as well as homophobic and discriminatory comments (for example, see here and here).

Chequeado analyzed the repercussion around the theme on the social network using Trendsmap. From Friday, February 14 at 8 a.m. until today at the same time, 830 tweets were registered regarding the topic. 58% we shared my men.

The original message was published by the user Willy Comentario (@Rexmas1alterno), who presents himself as “Licensed in Opinology with Specialization in Politics (TwitterU). Crocsmedian until I die”. He writes about politics, communication and other topics at Medium, a blogging platform for note sharing. The account has been active since 2018 and has 2,262 followers.

Because of the publication of this false information, “Del Caño” became a trend on Twitter and the user who published the original tweet celebrated. “That was the first time I created a trend. Let’s go find another”, he said. The original message received 4,300 shares and 54,800 likes.

The hashtag used the most in the conversation was “#delcaño”, which was included in 42.8% of the tweets about this topic. Among words mentioned the most often in the messages include “brother” (used in 89 of the tweets); “comments” (41%), “homophobic” (41%), “couple” (38%) and “hate” (38%). 

The two most shared tweets were made by the official account of the leader of FIT-Unidad. The first was published by Gustavo Pecoraro (@gustavopecoraro), a writer and journalist, also including the picture. He wrote: “This beautiful picture of @NicolasdelCano and his brother filled Twitter with hate. Homophoby is so brutal that it can’t even distinguish the affection between brothers. He got 470 shares and 2,135 likes.

In his message, Pecoraro also mentioned the brutal aggression suffered by two brothers in Brazil two years ago. At that time, José Leandro and José Leonardo were mistaken for a gay couple, and the beating took the life of one of them. Bruno Bimbi (@bbimbi), a journalist of the Todo Noticias, also associated the “homophobic comments on the netwokrs” with the episode in the neighboring country. His tweet obtained 531 shares and was bookmarked 2,551 times; it be\came the most replied messaged and the second most retweeted about this topic.

Other journalists and references (for example, see here and here) also gave their opinions about the issue. Valeria Fgl, of the La Izquierda Diario, tweeted: “I can’t believe how homophobic they are and that they can’t see the person in the picture is Del Caño’s brother”.

On the other hand, according to data from Trendsmap, the most influential message (in terms of number of followers) was published by Exitoina, an entertainment website of Perfil.com. It included the link for a text on the website with the title: “Gigoló in the left wing?”, since some tweets mentioned the similarities between Del Caño’s brother and Javier Bazterrica, known as “El Gigoló”.

The picture also reached Facebook, where the Nuevo Diario (of Santiago del Estero), among others, shared a note about the topic with the following message: “The former presidential candidate published a postcard and quickly became a trend on Twitter”. This publication had the highest ranking on Facebook and on the internet (by number of interactions) according to the Newswhip tool, which measures the impact of news published in the media. It is important to note that the information claimed by the newspaper was not accurate, since the photo was not shared by Del Caño.

Lastly, the analysis of the tweet which originated the disinformation shows that the laughing emoji stood out in the replies and mentions (1.5%). This information, together with the fact that the user defines himself as “Licensed in Opinology”, brings the fine line between humor and disinformation (see here) back into the center of the scene, because this type of content can be subject to false information and, as in this case, discriminatory.

According to the INADI, considering the total number of reports received on the internet between 2008 and 2017 (the last data available), the first reason is LGBTQ discrimination (21%).

* 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.