13 Jul

With 1.42 million tweets, debate about presidential hopefuls focuses on the murder of a PT supporter by a Bolsonaro supporter

Updated 19 de July, 2022 at 9:29 am

  • With a majority of profiles, a left-wing group on Twitter used the murder of a PT supporter to accuse Bolsonaro supporters of intolerance and death; in response, the Brazilian president claimed that violence is the typical behavior of the left;
  • On Facebook, there was a predominance of posts repudiating violence against leftists; the right wing focused on attacking the former president Lula and the left;
  • The most widely circulated links about Jair Bolsonaro’s participation in the March for Jesus emphasized the “good versus evil” narrative and the moral agendas defended by the president.

On the weekend, part of the public debate on social networks was marked by the involvement of presidential candidates in controversial episodes. Between July 9 and 10, there were 1.42 million mentions on Twitter to Jair Bolsonaro (PL), Lula (PT), Ciro Gomes (PDT), Simone Tebet (MDB) or André Janones (Avante ), according to a survey by the Department of Public Policy Analysis at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV DAPP). The main topics of the posts were about Bolsonaro, who appeared in 960,300 tweets, and about Lula, in 585,900 tweets. Both had their names associated with the murder of a PT supporter by an alleged supporter of the current president, in Foz do Iguaçu (PR), on Saturday (9).


Evolution of the debate about presidential hopefuls on Twitter
Period: July 9 and 10, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

In addition to the crime, there were also comments about the presence of Jair Bolsonaro in the March for Jesus, in São Paulo (SP), on Saturday (9). The word “march” had a high level of engagement and appeared in 90,200 tweets (or 6.4% of the debate), while the victim’s first name, Marcelo, was mentioned in 76,500 (or 5.4%). The word “bolsonarista” (Bolsonaro supporter), referring to the murderer, appeared in 131,300 tweets (9.3%). The most frequent hashtags in the debate included #lulaeoptunindoobrasil (Lula and the PT uniting Brazil), in 17.9 thousand posts; #bolsonarismomata (supporting Bolsonaro kills), in 11 thousand posts; #bolsonaronoprimeiroturno (Bolsonaro in the first round), in 14.7 thousand posts; and #bolsonaroreeleito2022 (Bolsonaro re-elected 2022), in 12.9 thousand posts.


Most frequent word and hashtags in the debate about presidential hopefuls on Twitter
Period: July 9 and 10, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP


Map of interactions in the debate about presidential hopefuls on Twitter
Period: July 9 and 10, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Left wing – 43.96% of profiles | 40.59% of interactions
Group formed around the profile @lulaoficial and composed of left-wing politicians, artists and journalists criticizing the government. They commented on and sympathized with the murder of PT supporter Marcelo Arruda in Foz do Iguaçu (PR). Highlighting the information that the suspect in the crime was allegedly a supporter of the current president, the posts claimed that it is typical of the Bolsonaro movement to exalt intolerance and death. There were also criticism of the proposal to increase the social aid program Auxílio Brasil due to the delay in making the decision, which allegedly had electoral intentions.

Right wing – 38.39% of profiles | 50.77% of interactions
Group composed of right-wing politicians, journalists and conservative digital influencers led by the profile of @jairbolsonaro and focused on disseminating a message from the Brazilian president rejecting the attitude of the supporter who murdered an opposition activist, in an attempt to detach Bolsonaro’s support from violent actions and vandalism. The group also posted images and videos of Bolsonaro’s participation in the March for Jesus in São Paulo (SP). There were also mentions to measures taken by the federal government, such as the increase in the number of micro and small companies and, consequently, jobs, in addition to benefits aimed at retirees and pensioners. The group also claimed that Lula had an alliance with Latin American dictatorships during the PT administrations.

Anti-government influencers ‒ 4.06% of profiles | 1.61% of interactions
Group mobilized by digital influencers, profiles and entertainment channels, expressing frustration with President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration of the country, especially regarding the increase in fuel prices – particularly gasoline – and the negligence in building and investing in universities. In addition, the posts highlighted episodes of violence, especially the case of Marcelo Arruda, who was murdered during his birthday party by an alleged Bolsonaro elector. The messages mentioning this episode associated Bolsonaro’s electors with a violent profile and suggested, in a tone of irony, that they are “criminals”.

Third way ‒ 7.36% of profiles | 5.30% of interactions
Group containing the profile of @cirogomes and mobilized by alternative media channels, journalists and digital influencers, who commented on cases of violence such as the episode in Foz do Iguaçu, which culminated in the death of the PT supporter Marcelo Arruda, as well as Lula’s statement in Diadema, in which he thanked a PT supporter for assaulting a businessman to defend him. Ciro Gomes lamented the murder, commenting on the involvement of Bolsonaro and Lula supporters and calling it a “human and political tragedy”. The PDT candidate also drew attention to the fact that political hatred needs to be contained in order to prevent this type of situation from taking gigantic proportions. He mentioned the March for Jesus, exalting Christian values in his profile.


Major tweets per group in the debate about presidential hopefuls
Period: July 9 and 10, 2022

Source: Twitter | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP


Map of link shares about the presidential hopefuls on Facebook
Period: July 9 and 10, 2022

Source: Facebook | Elaborated by: FGV DAPP

Right wing ‒ 24.31% of profiles
Group formed by political actors, conservative digital influencers and partisan media outlets, with a strong highlight of the website Jornal da Cidade Online in the major links shared. The group supports President Jair Bolsonaro and commented strongly about the March for Jesus, in São Paulo, on Saturday (09). In addition to exalting Christian values, the profiles compared the act in which former president Lula participated in Diadema (also on Saturday) with the March in which President Bolsonaro participated, suggesting inconsistency in vote intention polls. There were also links showing poll results in which Bolsonaro allegedly has an advantage. Attacks on former President Lula and on the left were a majority among the most widely circulated links.

Left wing ‒ 29.64% of profiles
Group composed of left-wing politicians and links coming mostly from traditional media outlets. The group protested strongly against the murder of the PT supporter and treasurer in Foz do Iguaçu. They emphasized that political intolerance and violence are direct threats to democracy and consequences of the hate speech encouraged by the government. There were also comments about other acts of violence, such as the homemade bomb thrown in a rally in support of former President Lula in Cinelândia (RJ), raising alerts about the candidate’s safety and the electoral process itself.

Profiles of news websites ‒ 3.84% of profiles
This group commented on the news that marked the weekend coming from links of traditional media portals. The acts of violence targeting left-wing activist were predominant in comments about the murder of the PT supporter in Foz do Iguaçu (PR) and the homemade bomb attack in a rally for pre-candidate Lula in Cinelândia (RJ). The news covering the March for Jesus highlighted the moral agenda and the “good versus evil” narrative used by President Jair Bolsonaro.

Third way ‒ 2.98% of profiles
A group composed mostly of profiles supporting Ciro Gomes and Sergio Moro, commenting about the economic and political crisis as legacies of the Lula and Bolsonaro administrations. There was no mention of the acts of violence that happened over the weekend.

Anti-Lula ‒ 1.55% of profiles
Group formed by pages and profiles supporting President Bolsonaro and focusing on attacking former President Lula, minimizing the acts of violence that occurred against left-wing supporters over the weekend, claiming that “the left would be capable of setting up an attack to blame Bolsonaro”.

Anti-left ‒ 4.36% of profiles
A group that was also composed of pages and profiles allied with President Bolsonaro, this time commenting on the crisis in Argentina and attacking national left-wing organizations and actors such as CUT, the politician José Dirceu, and the Lula and Alckmin ticket.

Sales profiles ‒ 2.47% of profiles
Group formed by trading and sales pages, sharing a link with a clickbait pattern mentioning the act of violence that happened in the rally for former president Lula in Cinelândia (RJ).