13 May

Police operation at Jacarezinho strengthens discourse of pro-government profiles, which dominate the digital debate

Public Security

Updated 20 de July, 2023 at 8:53 pm

  • Political fields are divided into those supporting social policies and those discussing the repressive approach in public security, with a predominance of profiles aligned with the federal government on Facebook and Twitter;
  • On Facebook, the group aligned with the federal government stood out in terms of activity and engagement, but left-wing supporters are also active and show a significant number of publications;
  • The low level of engagement – only 2.5% of the interactions – of collectives and activists in the public debate reveals the small reach of mobilization of the local groups affected the most by the operation.

Evolution of the debate on public security on Twitter
Period: May 5 at noon until May 12 at noon, 2021

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

The police operation carried out at the district of Jacarezinho in the north region of Rio de Janeiro on May 06 mobilized different political fields and intensified the debate about public security. A survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP) identified around half a million mentions to public security, including the Jacarezinho episode, on Twitter between May 5 at noon and May 12 at noon. Collectives and activists representing the district were very participant over the analyzed period, but the moment with the highest circulation of posts and engagement happened when politicians aligned with the federal government and the institutional left-wing joined the debate, especially the PT and the Psol.

Map of interactions of the debate about public security on Twitter
Period: May 5 at noon until May 12 at noon, 2021

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Blue – 43.9% of profiles | 57.5% of interactions
Group composed of right-wing politicians, journalists and conservative bloggers, who attacked the opinions of left-wing politicians and activists as well as the traditional media, who allegedly treats drug dealers and criminals as victims in the communities at large, and particularly those who lived at Jacarezinho and died during the police operation. Lamenting the death of a civil police officer during the operation, many posts congratulated the security forces of the state of Rio de Janeiro and of Brazil in general, and recognized the risks and difficulties faced by them in the exercise of their profession.

Red – 36.2% of profiles | 31.3% of interactions
Group composed of left-wing politicians, researchers, journalists and communication channels, who criticized the police operation that culminated in the death of more than twenty five Jacarezinho residents, questioned public security in Rio de Janeiro, called the episode the “Jacarezinho massacre” and “slaughter in Rio”, and showed their indignation with the violent attitude of the police. Many profiles mentioned the absence of the State, condemned the Jacarezinho operation as an unconstitutional act, and were revolted by the fact that some right-wing politicians – such as Vice President Mourão (PRTB) – stated without evidence that the dead were “all criminals” and “drug dealers of Jacarezinho”.

Pink – 5% of profiles | 3.1% of interactions
Group centered around digital influencers, lawyers and social activists, who were revolted by the more than 25 deaths caused by the police operation in Jacarezinho. While some posts criticized the police brutality in the episode, other comments blamed the dismantling of security forces and the lack of resources and strategic preparation of police corporations for the negative outcome of police operations. Many profiles also mentioned that those benefiting the most from these types of operations are supposedly politicians and not the residents in these communities or the population in general.

Orange – 4% of profiles | 2.5% of interactions
Group mobilized by profiles of community collectives in Rio and activists of the black movement, who shared stories and testimonies of Jacarezinho residents about the police operation in their community. The posts classified the operation as tragic and disastrous, listed the numbers and profiles of those killed, and insisted that this practice is far from being a good solution for crime in the city.

The debate on Facebook

We analyzed publications about public security and the Jacarezinho operation made on Facebook by the profiles of 594 congress representatives (513 congressmen and 81 senators) who are currently serving a mandate. There were 787 publications about the topic made by 253 profiles of congress representatives in the period analyzed.

The publications had 3.7 million interactions. Out of those, 494.4 thousand were reactions, and the most common ones were sadness (27.6%), anger (25.6%) and laughter (24.2%). In addition, 170 publications contained videos, which reached 9.4 million views.

15 congress representatives with the most publications about public security on Facebook
Period: May 5 at noon until May 12 at noon, 2021

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

15 congress representatives with the most interactions in publications about public security on Facebook
Period: May 5 at noon until May 12 at noon, 2021

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Both in terms of numbers of posts and engagement, there is a noticeable predominance of representatives aligned with the federal government – eleven out of the fifteen representatives with the most engagement, including the 6 major ones, and nine in terms of activity on Facebook. However, regarding the volume of publications, left-wing politicians (PT and Psol) played a significant role, which indicates that there were efforts to mobilized the narrative dispute regarding the episode. Among those who stood out and were balanced in both metrics are the congresswoman Carla Zambelli (PSL-SP), the congressman Carlos Jordy (PSL-RJ), the congressman Capitão Derrite (Progressistas-SP) and the congresswoman Gleisi Hoffmann (PT-PR). There is an absence of political parties outside of the ideological extremes of the dispute.