Digital Democracy

Digitalization and the Public Sphere in Brazil

Digital Media Consumption in Brazil

A mapping of information intake and the use of digital platforms in the national context

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1. Executive Summary

Abstract:
The purpose of the study Digital Media Consumption in Brazil was to map how Brazilians with internet access use the information they consume on digital media. Based on survey data collected between August 10 and 22, 2023, the study seeks to understand the information diet developed by internet use, which digital platforms, media outlets and types of content stand out in the national context, and how the appropriation of information happens with Brazilians as producing agents. The mapping found that WhatsApp and YouTube are among the most used social media platforms, and that politics and economics are the topics consumed the most by the respondents.

Keywords:
Digital media. Information consumption. Information diet. Social media platforms.

 

Summary of Results: 

  • The study Digital Media Consumption in Brazil showed that the social media platforms accessed the most by Brazilians on a daily basis are WhatsApp (81%) and Google (70%).
    To a lesser extent, respondents mentioned YouTube (45%), Instagram (36%) and Facebook (27%) as platforms that they also access daily.
  • More than half of young people (54%) aged between 16 and 24 years old use TikTok daily; in turn, 36% of the users in that same age range access Instagram and YouTube daily.
    Politics, economy and education are the three topics that capture the most interest and prompt the most accesses in those digital environments. Women stood out among the audience interested in politics (50.4%) and education (53%). In turn, men stood out when it came to the economy (59%).
  • Regarding political ideology, the study found that politics is a topic of interest and prompts participation equally for left/center-left users (35%) and right/center-right users (34%). The same happens for education, with 29% of left/center-left respondents interested in the topic and 28% for right/center-right respondents. When it comes to the economy, right-wing electors (36%) are more interested in the topic than left-wing electors (27%).
  • Another finding was that respondents interested in education have a higher perception of the harmfulness of disinformation. Among those, 63% believe disinformation is very harmful, while that number drops to 57% among those interested in politics and the economy. In turn, among those interested in politics and the economy, 32% and 33% (respectively) downplay the harmfulness of disinformation.
  • Reddit, Twitch, LinkedIn, Telegram, Kwai and Twitter were the social media platforms accessed the least by respondents on a daily basis. However, Twitter stood out as the platform used the most to follow influencers addressing issues primarily related to politics (92.3%), while LinkedIn was the platform used the most to follow influencers addressing the topic of education (60%).
  • Looking at the social media platforms used the most on a daily basis by Brazilian interviewees – WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok – indicates that the consumption of information through each of those platforms has some specific differences, such as the use of the app in order to follow influencers, the age range, and the level of interest in each topic.
  • When looking for media outlets for information consumption, women then to choose more traditional journalism channels such as Correio Braziliense, Folha de S. Paulo and O Povo. In turn, men make up the majority of the public of on-line media outlets such as Terra, Jovem Pan, Brasil247 and O Antagonista.
  • The choice of media outlet associates with the self-declared political and ideological position of each individual between right and left. Among those who indicated that they consume information produced by Brasil247, 71% identified as left or center-left, while only 19% identified as right or center-right. On the other hand, people who identified as right or center-right represent 64% of those who use Jovem Pan as their online source of information, while only 9% of the public of that media outlet identified as left or center-left.
  • Sixty-eight percent of the respondents in the study stated that they do not follow any influencer assiduously. Even though participants in the survey may be followers of digital influencers, most of them do not consume this type of content regularly.
  • Of the 32% who stated that they follow influencers assiduously, 57% are women, indicating a gender tendency when it comes to the preference and regularity of consuming this type of information. In terms of age range, people from 25 to 35 years old (27%), 16 to 24 years old (24%), and 35 to 44 years old (23%) are among those more likely to follow influencers.
    Instagram and YouTube are the leaders among the platforms with more assiduous consumption of content produced by influencers, with 47.8% and 46.6% of the respondents, respectively.

 

2. Introduction

In the digital communication era, information consumption has happened mostly through digital platforms. Companies offering these services form digital infrastructures that intermediate and connect consumers, producers and service providers in an interactive ecosystem, enabling the exchange of goods, services and information (SRNICEK, 2017). In this context, there is a growing process of platformization, that is, “the penetration of the infrastructures, economic processes, and governmental frameworks of platforms in different economic sectors and spheres of life” (POELL; NIEBORG; DIJCK, 2020, p.5).

In platformization, users are simultaneously the producers and consumers of a wide variety of content available in digital environments, in a multidirectional model of network communication. With that, digital platforms promote a participative digital culture in which many types of texts, videos and images compose the media diet of Brazilians. In this comparison with eating habits (WIRED, 2009; INTERNETLAB, 2019), a media diet involves what we consume and how we consume it online. As with any diet, the way users consume media may also affect them based on the consumption amount, quality, variety and frequency. This report focused on investigating and understanding the platforms, media outlets and topics of the content consumed and produced on digital media.

While, on one hand, digital media have expanded the possibilities of access to information and democratized content production, on the other hand, they also enable the wide circulation of harmful content such as disinformation. According to the ‘High level expert group on fake news and online disinformation’, a report associated with the European Commission, it is a complex contemporary phenomenon involving “false, inaccurate, or misleading information designed, presented and promoted to intentionally cause public harm or for profit” (EUROPEAN UNION, 2018, p.3). In a distributed information ecosystem, disinformation has become an element that is inseparable from information consumption itself and from the current media diet.
As the third country with the most frequent social media use in the world, Brazil is an important market for the dynamics for the expansion of businesses associated with digital media. However, it is also a fertile ground for studies about online media consumption practices and how they affect the social and political relationships that make up the Brazilian society. Within this scope, this study asks the following questions: How do Brazilians consume information in digital environments? What types of content do users consume? In which platforms do users access this content? What is the relationship between this content consumption and users’ political views? In the context of the platformization of society, addressing these questions is essential for understanding how the media consumption habits of the Brazilian population condition the practices that outline the country’s contemporary democratic dynamics.

There are several studies providing an important framework about information consumption by the population both in Brazil and abroad. In the Brazilian context, some of the most relevant studies are TIC Domicílios, produced by the Regional Center for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (Centro Regional de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação – Cetic.br), a department of the Ponto BR Information and Coordination Center (Núcleo de Informação e Coordenação do Ponto BR – NIC.br), and the report Desigualdades Desinformativas, by the Aláfia Lab (SANTOS et. al, 2023). In the international context, relevant studies include the Digital News Report, produced annually by the Reuters Institute, and the News Consumption across Social Media, organized by the Pew Research Center. However, there are still some unexplored aspects on the subject, such as information on the main topics consumed, the consumption of content produced by media outlets and influencers, and the population’s perception about disinformation.

Understanding how Brazilians consume information in the digital environment was the goal of the study Digital Media Consumption in Brazil, carried out online between August 10 and 22, 2023. There were 1,722 respondents aged 16 or older. The questionnaire included 13 questions about information consumption, content usage and production, and disinformation, as well as sociodemographic questions.

Sample Profile

The respondents were 50.9% women and 49.1% men. Most of them live in the country’s Southeast Region (41.8%), while 28.6% live in the Northeast, 14.7% in the South, 7.8% in the North, and 7.1% in the Midwest. Regarding age range, 23.7% of the respondents were 45 to 59 years old, 20.7% were 25 to 34, 14% were 16 to 24, and 20.2% were 60 or more years old. Most of the respondents (39.7%) had complete or incomplete secondary education, while 37.5% had complete or incomplete primary education or no formal education, and 22.7% had complete or incomplete higher education. Regarding the income of respondents, 33.2% had a monthly family income of up to R$ 2,000, 21.2% had between R$ 2,000 and R$ 3,000, 22.1% had between R$ 3,000 and R$ 5,000, 16% had between R$ 5,000 and 10,000, and 7.6% had more than R$ 10,000. A large portion of the respondents (45%) said they were catholic, while 23.4% were evangelic, 14.1% were believers without religion, 12.1% were of another religion, and 5.4% were agnostics or atheists.

 

Figure 1 - Sample Profile

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Research Methodology

Atlas Intel performed the study using an internal methodology involving Random Digital Recruitment (RDR) of respondents in the digital environment. This method offers some advantages compared to traditional methodologies, such as the speed of response collection, coverage, and the random selection of respondents. Response collection happens through an intuitive interface on the screen of each users’ device, with no human interaction with respondents. The method uses representative variables to ponder the responses based on the profile of the Brazilian population, such as gender, age, city HDI, religion, family structure, and other aspects, as well as control variables (habits) based on statistical criteria. Non-responses undergo a methodological treatment based on each demographic subgroup.

3. Parte II - Consumption Habits

1) The Media Consumption Diet of Brazilians

Digital media are present in the lives of most of the Brazilian population for several purposes, such as communicating with people, companies and governments, searching for and consuming information, shopping, leisure, and more. The study Digital Media Consumption in Brazil showed that the social media platforms accessed the most by Brazilians on a daily basis are WhatsApp (81%) and Google (70%). To a lesser extent, respondents mentioned YouTube (45%), Instagram (36%) and Facebook (27%) as platforms that they also access daily. The platforms accessed the least on a daily basis were Spotify (12%), Twitter (10%), and Telegram (6%). LinkedIn (3%), Twitch (2%) and Reddit (1%) had the lower percentage of responses by those participating in the research. It is worth noting that a lower percentage of daily access to some platforms relates to the purposes of use for each platform. For instance, the data shows that people commonly use LinkedIn and Telegram “from time to time” or “sometimes” in the week rather than daily.

Figure 2 - Weekly Access to Digital Media

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

The study showed that Brazilians’ consumption habits of digital media vary greatly according to age, gender, level of education and religion, which indicates some patterns of behavior and content consumption based on the most used type of digital media. The main finding in this section showed that respondents mentioned Google and Whatsapp as the platforms used the most on a daily basis, regardless of their age, gender, level of education and religion.

1.1 By Age

More than half of young people (54%) aged between 16 and 24 years old use TikTok daily; in turn, 36% of the users in that same age range access Instagram and YouTube daily. A lower portion of young people stated that they access Twitter (14%), Telegram (8%) and Facebook (8%) daily. The platforms accessed the least by this group were Kwai (3%), Twitch (2%), Reddit (1%) and Linkedin (1%).

Among those aged between 25 and 34 years old, 54% use Instagram and 52% use YouTube daily. Those two platforms received the highest percentage of daily use within this age range. TikTok and Facebook received 22% of the responses in this group.

The digital media consumption profile of respondents aged between 35 and 44 years old and between 45 and 59 years old was very similar. Those respondents mentioned YouTube (51%), Instagram (35%) and Facebook (34%) as the platforms they access the most daily, as well as Google (74%) and WhatsApp (86%). The platforms accessed the least by these respondents were TikTok (10%), Twitter (9%), Spotify (4%) and Kwai (4%).

For respondents over 60 years old, YouTube (35%) and Facebook (31%) were respectively the third and fourth most accessed platforms daily. Only 22% of these respondents mentioned Instagram, while TikTok appeared in 10% of the responses. Those were the lowest percentages received by the two platforms compared to other age ranges.

1.2 By Gender

The most significant difference in the analysis of consumption habits by gender was that men access YouTube (52%) and Facebook (39%) more on a daily basis than women (39% for YouTube and 26% for Facebook). On the other hand, almost half of the women (49%) use Instagram every day, compared to only 22% of men. The other platforms do not show significant differences in consumption patterns based on gender.

1.3 By Level of Education

Regarding level of education, the daily consumption for YouTube and Facebook was very similar in the three profiles analyzed: primary, secondary and higher education. On average, YouTube received 46% of the answers, while Facebook received 27%, regardless of level of education. In addition, respondents with higher education mentioned TikTok only 10% of the time, the lowest percentage of the three levels of education. Instagram received the lowest percentage of answers (22%) among respondents with high school, while the other education profiles mentioned the platform 45% of the time.

 

1.4 By Religion

Digital media consumption in relation to the religion profile of respondents is quite variable. WhatsApp had the highest percentage of answers regarding daily access across all religion profiles in the sample, ranging from 79% to 89%. YouTube was the third digital platform accessed the most among all religions, with agnostics or atheists showing the highest percentage (61%), followed by believers without religion (57%), evangelic respondents (47%), catholic respondents (40%), and respondents of other religions (41%). Google was the most accessed platform on a daily basis by agnostics or atheists (92%), believers without religion (83%), and other religions (75%), and the least accessed for evangelic (68%) and catholic (63%) respondents. Agnostics or atheists access Instagram the most with 56%, compared to percentages ranging from 24% to 38% for respondents of other religion profiles. In turn, Facebook received the most answers among respondents of other religions (38%) and the least answers among agnostics or atheists (16%). Spotify received the most answers among respondents of other religions (24%) and agnostics or atheists (22%). Twitter showed the highest percentage of answers regarding daily access among believers without religion (22%) and agnostics or atheists (21%). Lastly, TikTok received the lowest percentage of answers among believers without religion (6%).

 

2) Most Accessed Content

Politics, the economy and education were among the topics accessed the most by respondents.

 

2.1 Politics

2.1.1 By Gender

It is worth noting that women were responsible for most of the accesses. Studies on the historical behavior of women on politics indicate a lower level of participation compared to that of men (Miguel and Biroli, 2013; Sanchez, 2015). According to the literature, the causes for this lower level of participation includes institutional factors (political institutions are still not very inclusive), cultural and socialization norms that see politics as a male environment, and structural constraints such as the sexual division of labor, which assigns women to household chores and the socialization of children, reducing the time available for political participation.

The division between the public space (predominantly male dominated) and the private space (predominantly female dominated) is recurrent in the debate on the reasons for gender differences in political participation. Social media has enabled the expansion of women’s private space into the public space. They have become able to participate in the public debate without leaving home, the place for domestic work and children’s socialization.

 

Figure 3 - Access to the Politics Topic, by Gender

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.1.2 By Age

Regarding age distribution, 16% of the respondents who stated that they access the topic of politics are between 16 and 24 years old, and the analysis found the same percentage for those aged 25 to 34 years old. In turn, 22% of those aged 35 to 44 and 26% of those aged 45 to 59 access politics on a daily basis. The remaining 22% represent those aged 60 or more.

It is important to note that the distribution follows the same curve as the electorate distribution with small variations, indicating that age is not a component that determines interest in access to politics. According to the TSE, the age distribution of the Brazilian electorate in August 2023 was as follows: 13% aged 16 to 24, 20% aged 25 to 34, 21% aged 35 to 44; 25% from 45 to 59, and 21% over 60 years old.

Figure 4 - Access to the Politics Topic, by Age

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.1.3 By ideology

Regarding ideology, the interest in politics on social media divides itself into the right (29%), center right (5%), left (25%), and center left (10%) political sectors. In other words, 34% of the public is in the right/center right, while 35% is in the left/center left. Only 6% of the respondents said they were completely centrist, and 24% said they had no ideology or did not know.

Figure 5 - Access to the Politics Topic, by Ideology

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.1.4 On the Perception of the Harmfulness of Disinformation

Among those who access the politics topic on social media, 57% said they believe disinformation is “very harmful” for democracy, in addition to 11% who believe it is “harmful”. In turn, 29% of the respondents downplayed the harmfulness of disinformation, believing it is “not very harmful” (12%) or “not a threat” (17%).

These numbers indicate the limitations of some instruments to fight disinformation. Literature on the topic mentions three main instruments to fight misinformation: internet use regulation, fact-checking actions, and inoculation strategies such as promoting literacy for social media use (Batista et al., 2023). The research numbers show that approximately one out of three users who access politics on the internet believe disinformation is not significantly harmful. One could expect that many users will share disinformation because they are mindful of their individual truth about facts, seeking to belong to groups that reproduce or resonate with their thoughts and desires – and that they do not see this as harmful to democracy.

Figure 6 - Access to the Politics Topic, by Harmfulness of Disinformation

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.2 The Economy

2.2.1 By Gender and Age

There is a majority of men (59%) when it comes to the access to content related to the economy. Regarding the access to the economy topic, the study found that users aged 16 to 24 constitute 13% of the age distribution, while those between 25 and 34 represent 16%, those between 35 and 44 account for 21%, respondents aged 45 to 59 represent the largest segment at 28%, and users over 60 account for 21%. Like in the analysis of the digital public for political content, it is also worth noting in this case that the distribution of those who consume information about the economy follows the same pattern of the electorate distribution curve, with small variations.

Figure 7 - Access to the Economy Topic, by Age

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.2.2 By Ideology

Regarding the distribution by ideology, most people who consume content in the economy topic stated that they identify as right wing (29%), or that they do not know or do not have a defined ideology (26%).

There is a significant difference in consumption of content related to the economy between the left and center-left (27% of respondents) and the right and center-right (37% of respondents).

 

 

Figure 8 - Access to the Economy Topic, by Ideology

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.2.3 On the Perception of the Harmfulness of Disinformation

Among those who access content in the economy topic, 57% believe that sharing disinformation is very harmful for democracy, together with 10% who believe it is harmful. In turn, 33% do not find the issue relevant.

Figure 9 - Access to the Economy Topic, by Harmfulness of Disinformation

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.3 Education

2.3.1 By Gender and Age

There is a majority of women accessing content on education, corresponding to 53% of the digital public in this topic. Compared to the content consumption for politics and the economy, education attracts a younger public that is more concentrated in the lower age segments.

Figure 10 - Access to the Education Topic, by Age

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.3.2 By Ideology

The study found that most people who consume content on education tend to indicate that they do not have an ideology or that they do not know what their ideology is (38%), followed by those who identify as right (23%) and as left (19%).

Figure 11 - Access to the Education Topic, by ideology

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.3.3 On the Perception of the Harmfulness of Disinformation

Among those who consume content on education, there is a slightly stronger perception than average when it comes to the harmfulness of disinformation. While respondents who downplayed the harmfulness of disinformation represented 29% and 30% of the public who consume content on politics and on the economy (respectively), this percentage falls to 26% among those who consume content on education.

Figure 12 - Access to the Education Topic, by Harmfulness of Disinformation

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.4 Information Checking

2.4.1 By Gender

When asked about their habit of checking information before sharing it on social media, men where the majority who replied “sometimes, when it’s suspicious”, with 55%. Meanwhile, women were the majority who replied that they “always check” and that they “do not check”.

Figure 13 - Information Checking, by Gender

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.4.2 By Age

Consumers aged 16 to 24 are the ones who check information the least. The respondents who check information the most are those aged 35 to 44 and 45 to 59. Respondents aged 60 or more check information more often than the youngest age segment, but less often than the other segments.

Figure 14 - Information Checking, by Age

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

2.4.3 On the Perception of the Harmfulness of Disinformation

Among those who always check the information they share, 69% believe that disinformation on social media is very harmful to democracy. In turn, among those who never check the information they share, this number falls to 37%. The same group shows a considerable increase in the number of people who say they do not know that disinformation is harmful (26%).

Figure 15 - Information Checking, by Perception of the Harmfulness of Disinformation

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

4. Part II - The Digital Ecosystem

3) The Usage Profile of Social Media

The information consumption practices of the Brazilian population in the digital environment found in this study indicated some aspects related to the use of specific social media platforms. For instance: although WhatsApp is the most used social media platform on a daily basis by the respondents, when it comes to following digital influencers, the messaging app falls to the sixth position, while Instagram is first.

Reddit, Twitch, LinkedIn, Telegram, Kwai and Twitter were the social media platforms accessed the least by respondents on a daily basis. However, Twitter stood out as the platform used the most to follow influencers addressing issues primarily related to politics (92,3%); Telegram placed first when it came to the economy (77%); and LinkedIn was the platform used the most to follow influencers addressing the topic of education (60%).

Looking at the social media platforms used the most on a daily basis by Brazilian interviewees – WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok – indicates that the consumption of information through each of those platforms has some specific differences, such as the use of the app in order to follow influencers, the age range, and the level of interest in each topic. For instance, gaming was the most consumed topic for respondents who used WhatsApp (100%), YouTube (98.4%) and TikTok (73.4%) in the period analyzed. However, it was the least consumed topic among those who access Facebook daily (54.3%). Fashion and beauty was the only topic among the four types of content mentioned the most by users on the five platforms listed above. In turn, sports, as well as food and cooking, were among the four major topics on Facebook, while spirituality and religion was the fourth topic that appeared the most on YouTube.

The sections below will present more details of the analysis per platform.

 

3.1 TikTok

Even though the study found that TikTok is not a frequently accessed platform in brazil, the numbers indicated a high frequency of daily use in the age range between 16 to 24 years (53.9%) compared to men (19.1%) and women (21.2%) aged between 35 and 44 years (10.9%). Among the respondents who follow any influencer, 12.1% do it through TikTok, which makes it the fourth platform used the most for that end.

According to the data cross-referencing between frequency of access and topics of interest, the study found that users who accessed the app at least once during the analysis period showed more interest in games, fashion and beauty, art and culture, and jobs and careers. Music (61.5%) was the type of content shared the most by users of the application. However, more than half of the respondents also used TikTok to share public utility information (56.6%), news (55%), motivational content (54.7%), materials promoting their work (54.6%), and memes (54.5%). Regarding their perception of the harmfulness of disinformation in content circulating on the internet, 32% of those who stated that they do not believe disinformation is harmful use TikTok daily.

Figure 16 - Topics of Interest per Access to TikTok

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Figure 17 - Sharing of Content per Access to TikTok

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Figure 18 - Harmfulness of Disinformation per Access to TikTok

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

3.2 Instagram

Instagram is the fourth online platform accessed the most on a daily basis by the respondents, with a predominance of female users (49.4%), who account for more than double the number of male users (22.6%). In addition to the majority of women, Instagram is also the main platform for those who follow a specific content producer: 48.1% of the respondents who follow any influencer do so through Instagram. Users use the application to access a wide variety of topics, primarily fashion and beauty (94.1%), art and culture (87.1%), jobs and careers (86.4%), and gaming (84.3%). The type of content shared the most by those who access the platform daily was cultural products (88.2%), followed by memes (85.4%), promotion of work (84.4%), and motivational content (83.5%). Regarding the harmfulness of disinformation, 41% of those who consider it very harmful are Instagram users.

Figure 19 - Topics of Interest per Access to Instagram

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Figure 20 - Sharing of Content per Access to Instagram

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Figure 21 - Harmfulness of Disinformation , per Access to Instagram

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

3.3 Facebook

Facebook is the fifth platform used the most on a daily basis by respondents; however, it is the fourth platform used the least by respondents aged 16 to 24 (8.1%). In addition, it is the third platform accessed the most by those following any influencer (19.9%). When looking at specific topics of interest, it is the second platform used the most by users following content creators focused on food and cooking (29.7%), behind only WhatsApp (27.4%). Like in the other platforms, respondents use Facebook to consume all the types of content indicated in the study. However, the highlights were the topics of fashion and beauty (81.4%), jobs and careers (76.4%), food and cooking (73%), and sports (72.4%). Among users who believe the circulation of disinformation in digital environments is “not a threat”, 35% use Facebook daily.

Figure 22 - Topics of Interest per Access to Facebook

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Figure 23 - Sharing of Content per Access to Facebook

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

Figure 24 - Harmfulness of Disinformation per Access to Facebook

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

3.4 YouTube

YouTube is the third platform accessed the most on a daily basis by the Brazilian respondents, especially men (52.4%) and adults aged 35 to 44 (56.1%). Its use falls considerably among young people aged 16 to 24 (36.1%). The video platform stands out as a collection for audiovisual search, where users focus on consuming content on gaming (98.4%), art and culture (96.9%), fashion and beauty (96.8%), and spirituality and religion (95.2%). Regarding the content shared on the platform, the study found that users focus on motivational content (97.4%), public utility (96.1%), music (95.8%), and memes (94.9%). Among those who consider the circulation of misinformation “Not a threat”, 53% access YouTube daily.

Figure 25 - Harmfulness of Disinformation per Access to YouTube

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

3.5 WhatsApp

Meta’s instant messaging app is the platform used the most on a daily basis by the Brazilians respondents. The high frequency of daily use of this platform to access information sees reduced percentages only among those aged 16 to 24 (55.1%), entrepreneurs (50.1%), and residents of the North region (45.4%). In addition, users do not use WhatsApp frequently to follow influencers, with only 9.3% of respondents saying that they use the platform to follow specific content creators. No particular topic of interest stands out on WhatsApp, with users consuming content of all the types addressed in this study in practically 100% of the cases. This is also true in the case of the most shared type of content, since practically all of the respondents who use the application share all the formats analyzed. Among those who consider the circulation of misinformation “Not very serious”, 81% access WhatsApp daily.

Figure 26 - Harmfulness of Disinformation per Access to WhatsApp

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

4) Media Outlet Consumption Profile

 

4.1 Most Accessed Online Media Outlets 

The study also analyzed the composition of the information diet of respondents, taking into account the media outlets. The data showed that the media outlets Portal G1 (41%), Jovem Pan (36%) and CNN Brasil (26%) are among the most accessed by the respondents. Other highlights were O Globo (19%), Folha de S. Paulo (17%) and R7 (14%). Other media outlets appeared as sources of information in digital environments for fewer than 10% of the respondents. This last group includes Estadão, Brasil247, Correio Braziliense, Terra, O Antagonista, O Povo, Zero Hora and O Liberal.

 

 

Figure 27 - Most Accessed Online Media

Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

. Source: Atlas | Elaborated by: FGV ECMI

4.2 Most Accessed Online Media Outlets, by Gender

The choice of online media outlet for information consumption varies according to the gender of respondents. Outlets such as Correio Braziliense, Folha de S. Paulo and O Povo were among the top picks for women when it came to online channels for information consumption. In turn, most of the male audience indicated outlets such as Terra, Jovem Pan and O Liberal as their sources for news and other content consumption. The distribution between men and women was more balanced for outlets such as Globo, Estadão, CNN Brasil, G1, R7 and Zero Hora.

 

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5) The World of Digital Influencers

Today, digital influencers play a strategic role in the production and consumption of information on digital platforms. There are different types of profiles of digital influencers and content producers. Estimates show that there are around 20 million content creators in Brazil (YOUPIX, 2023). These influencers work on different platforms and produce content on a variety of topics.

Although research on influence marketing indicates an increase in the relevance of content producers in the information ecosystem (YOUPIX; NIELSEN, 2023), it is worth noting that 68% of the respondents in the study stated that they do not follow any influencer assiduously. Even though participants in the survey may be followers of digital influencers, most of them do not consume this type of content regularly. In addition, women and young people showed a higher level interest in following influencer profiles among those who stated that they follow this type of content assiduously.

Of the 32% who stated that they follow influencers assiduously, 57% are women, indicating a gender tendency when it comes to the preference and regularity of consuming this type of information. To an extent, this number reflects the profile of the influencers, who, according to other studies, are mostly women (YOUPIX, 2022). In turn, among those who stated that they do not follow any influencer regularly (68%), most are men (72%).

In terms of age range, people from 25 to 35 years old (27%), 16 to 24 years old (24%), and 35 to 44 years old (23%) are among those more likely to follow influencers. The proportion of positive answers falls significantly among those aged 45 or older. This suggests that the interest in consuming content produced by influencers tends to be higher among younger generations, such as millennials and Gen Z.

Instagram and YouTube are the leaders among the platforms with more assiduous consumption of content produced by influencers, with 47.8% and 46.6% of the respondents, respectively. In addition, it is worth noting that the respondents consider politics the main topic of interest in the content influencers produce, leading with 50.9% of the answers of those who follow these profiles frequently. The other topics of interest are the economy (24%), education (20.3%), and spirituality and religion (18.2%). To an extent, this interest for politics reflects the political context in the country during the study period, which happened soon after an extremely polarizing election year (RUEDIGER; GRASSI, 2023).

In addition, the ideological profile of those who stated that they follow influencers assiduously is mostly right (32%) or respondents who did do know or do not have an ideology (27%). Those who stated that they identify with the left or center-left accounted for 24% and 13% of the respondents interested in this content when produced by influencers, respectively.

 

5. Conclusion

This study sought to evaluate the media consumption of the Brazilian population. The findings enabled a broad perspective on important aspects of the habits and profiles of those who consume digital media. The analysis also found patterns of online consumption behavior in relation to sharing disinformation, as well as the perception of the harmfulness of disinformation.

The access to online digital platforms and social media is a reality in the daily lives of Brazilians, who frequently access these environments – especially WhatsApp and Google. Although the population in the sample does not access TikTok in general, it was the most used application on a daily basis by younger respondents. The study found that users access Instagram the most in order to follow content creators, and women use it more often. Twitter stood out for users looking for influencers focusing on politics, and LinkedIn stood out for education.

It is worth noting that 29% of the population who access the topic of politics on social media downplay the harmfulness of disinformation, believing it is “not very harmful” (12%) or “not a threat” (17%). This number indicates the challenges and limitations of information checking strategies in fighting the disinformation phenomenon. Respondents who believe disinformation is not harmful tend to share it more often.

This enabled the observation of the differences between the types of public accessing each platform assiduously in relation to their sociodemographic profile, interest in a given topic, consumption of news in media outlets, and consumption of content produced by influencers. With digital communication becoming increasingly widespread, understanding the usage habits and information flows on social media also helps understand the political and social transformations in society.

6. Editorial Staff

Research Coordination
Marco Aurelio Ruediger
Amaro Grassi

Researchers
Anna Bentes
Beatriz Pinheiro
Denisson Santos
Eurico Matos
Luciana Veiga
Renata Tomaz

Technical Review
Renata Tomaz

Graphic Project
Daniel Almada
Luis Gomes

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