It is a mistake to think that politics dominates attention on social media. According to data science researcher and professor Fabio Malini, this place is actually for entertainment.
Coordinator of the Laboratory of Studies on Image and Cyberculture (Labic) at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Ufes), Malini gives the example of gossip profiles in Brazil. According to him, the pages have accumulated huge and heterogeneous audiences on Instagram and today exert significant influence on the network – with millions of followers, surpassing in numbers the accounts of politicians and traditional press vehicles.
The researcher monitors what he sees as a trend for this year’s election: “political gossip”, that is, the growing appropriation of political themes and characters by an ecosystem of “entertainment influencers”.
“If we take, for example, a monitoring tool [de redes sociais] like Crowdtangle, and put there the most basic words like Lula, Moro, Bolsonaro and Ciro, at least half of the results [no Instagram] will be with profiles like “Shocked”, “Pink”, “Hugo Gloss”, he says.
The pages traditionally cover topics such as the lives of celebrities and the BBB and accumulate, respectively, 17, 21 and 19 million followers on Instagram. In comparison, the accounts of three of the largest press vehicles in the country (sheetO Globo and Estadão) together have 7.5 million followers on the platform.
This year’s Lollapalooza was a sample of this mix between politics and entertainment after TSE censorship of demonstrations at the event. Anitta, Fresno, Lulu Santos and several other artists led the chorus “Fora, Bolsonaro”, which was replicated by the crowd and also on social media.
The confluence of these two fields does not come from now. In August 2019, for example, at the height of the fires in the Amazon, it was showbiz that helped to spread, through social networks, the repercussion of the environmental disaster to the world.
“The trend this year is that the entertainment field is going to be dominant in politics,” he says. “And that changes the configuration of applications on the networks.”
The race to the Plateau has so far been marked by the efforts of some pre-campaigns to adopt native digital formats and puncture bubbles. The pedestrian Ciro Gomes has been doing lives and “reacts” on his Youtube channel (PDT), in addition to participating in podcast programs. Lula (PT) takes a similar path, and in early March the Lulaverso portal, which aggregates communication channels on various digital platforms, debuted.
PT has also approached influencers and artists. On Tuesday (29), a meeting with the singer Ludmilla rocked the networks. “If Lula appears with Ludmilla or Anitta, which mega Instagram accounts do you think will reverberate the frill?, says Malini.
“Unlike 2018, when anti-PT was dominant on platforms, 2022 will have the political hegemony of entertainment influencers, mixing what they know how to do best (selling) with an anti-Bolsonaro stance, which helps Lula more.”
The rejection of the president, according to him, would not be expressed directly on the pages or through formal alignments with other campaigns, but rather through a more “artful” political opinionism, in which “something is said without mentioning the thing , or who is speaking”.
The practice can be observed when the profiles start to thematize, even in a jocular way, subjects such as the increase in food prices and inflation, says Malini. “Clearly those profiles are beginning to align themselves with an anti-Bolsonarista candidacy”, she says.
The interest would be to attract polarization dynamics to the comment boxes, increasing the volume of audience interactions. “On the one hand you have the political dimension, but on the other hand there is the dynamics of monetization happening”, he says.
The concentration of this trend on Instagram would be justified by the way in which Meta’s platform brings together the universe of celebrities more strongly. It is there where influencers and pages have a solid audience, which attracts the advertising market.
“Although Youtube now has the “shorts” [vídeos curtos]Instagram is where the Stories, the Reels are, which generate a lot of views and increase the audience of these influencers even more”, he says. “It is logical that, with such a heterogeneous audience, this connection with politics will happen in those spaces where profiles are already consolidated”.
The researcher also argues that the pandemic has accelerated the process of digitization of the population, and that this year’s election will have much more technologically educated voters.
“If we talked in 2018 about the need to be critical when on the internet, based on the evidence we have, voters today are much more digital and much more attentive to what happens on different platforms”.
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