21 Mar

More than half a million profiles commented about the Telegram block in Brazil, with a predominance of the government support group

Updated 23 de March, 2022 at 5:16 pm

  • Dissatisfied with the decision made by the Supreme Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes, more than 67% of the users claimed it was an attempt to harm Jair Bolsonaro and talked about inconveniences caused on people’s lives;
  • Profiles criticizing the government compared the indignation of pro-Bolsonaro profiles at the block to the way they passively accepted the increase in fuel prices;
  • On Facebook, pro-government websites were responsible for the links with the highest number of interactions.

Decisions made by the Supreme Court about the Telegram operation in Brazil mobilized the social networks at the weekend. There were 589.6 thousand mentions to the topic on Twitter between Friday (18) and Sunday (21), according to a study by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP) The debate was intense on Friday afternoon, when it was announced that the app would be blocked in the country by decision of the Minister Alexandre de Moraes, reaching 36.4 thousand tweets at 4pm.

Evolution of the debate about Telegram on Twitter
Period: March 18 to 20

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Most of the profiles were unhappy with Moraes’ decision, calling the measure authoritarian and dictatorial. Of the top 5 hashtags in the debate, 4 targeted the Supreme Court or the minister: #impeachmentalexandredemoraes and #impeachmentalexandremoraes accounted for 12.9 thousand posts, #stfvergonhanacional (supreme court national shame) appeared in 33.5 thousand, and #moraestirano (Moraes tyrant) appeared in 4.9 thousand. The hashtag #telegram also stood out, appearing in 4.7 thousand tweets. In addition, the address of Jair Bolsonaro’s personal Telegram channel appeared in 2 thousand posts and was the most shared link on Twitter during the period.

Map of interactions in the debate about Telegram on Twitter
Period: March 18 to 20

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Blue – 43.33% of profiles | 69.64% of interactions
Government support group composed of politicians, bloggers and celebrities, as well as alternative media outlets. This group had the highest participation on Twitter and called the decision by Alexandre de Moraes an act of censorship, comparing the episode to situations seen in countries such as Cuba, China and North Korea. Claiming that Telegram is the only channel where they enjoyed freedom of speech, the profiles stated that the block was a threat to democracy.

Orange – 17.64% of profiles | 11.12% of interactions
Group composed of left-wing politicians, celebrities and journalists who criticize the current administration. They focused on spreading the news about the Telegram block, claiming that the decision was reasonable because the platform had breached court decisions. The profiles claimed that the app was used for criminal activities and for spreading fake news. Other posts also mocked the frustration of the pro-government group regarding the situation.

Pink – 10.55% of profiles | 5.10% of interactions
Group composed of digital influencers and common user profiles, who lamented the inconveniences caused by the Telegram block such as losing access to books, films and series. Some posts even gave tips on how to circumvent the problem. The term ‘bookstan’ – a loyal reader of a saga or author – was a highlight in the part of the debate, appearing in 9.8 thousand posts.

Green – 9.73% of profiles | 7.00% of interactions
Group mobilized by conservative digital influencers and entrepreneurs, who criticized the decision by Alexandre de Moraes, interpreting the Telegram block as a way to harm President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters in an election year. Suggesting that the minister is a tyrant, the posts included Brazil in a list of allegedly anti-democratic countries who have banned the app, such as Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Russia.

Light Blue – 3.75% of profiles | 2.26% of interactions
Centered on viral posts made by the profile of the congressman @marcelvanhattem (NOVO-RS), this group highlighted the dictatorial or censorial nature of the Telegram block by the Supreme Court. The posts also included videos with reports against the decision and the apology given by the CEO of the company responsible for the app to the Court.

Links with the most interactions about the Telegram block on Facebook
Period: March 18 to 20

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

There is a large predominance of websites aligned with the federal government among the profiles with the most interactions published in public pages and groups and verified profiles on Facebook. The website Jornal da Cidade Online published seven of the ten links with the most engagement, and stood out as the main outlet driving the narratives of the group associated with the government. It is interesting to note that the link with the most interactions showed critical remarks made by the journalist Jorge Pontual of GloboNews, a channel that is usually associated with the opposition.