Digital Democracy

Digitalization and the Public Sphere in Brazil


The buzz of distrust in the electoral system on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter

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This research analyzes the flux of content and narrative axis that support the lack of trust on the Brazilian electoral system. The study is based on a corpus of 1,426,687 posts published on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter between the days of November 1st and November 30th, period that comprised the municipal elections of 2020 in Brazil. Through structured linguistic rules, we collected content regarding fraud in the ballots, vulnerability of the electronic ballots, farse and electoral manipulation, acute defense of paper ballots, among others, provided from these three social media platforms. The analysis is divided in two parts: the first one examines the evolution of the publications in the electoral month, and the second examines the narrative networks that amplify this kind of debate in digital environments. This document is more of an effort in the sense of understanding the scenario of disorder and informative manipulation with anti-systematic and conspiratorial qualities that have been emerging in the online public sphere and supported processes of public opinion distortion in Brazil, especially in electoral contexts.

Key-words: Online Public Discussion; Electoral Distrust; Election Fraud; 2020 Elections; Social Media.

Main Results

  • Almost 1.5 million posts that tackle topics of distrust in the electoral system were published on social media platforms between November 1st and November 30th of 2020 – mostly on Twitter, followed by Facebook, and, lastly, YouTube.
  • The United States elections, the hack of the Supreme Electoral Court system, and the breakdown in the vote counting in the first round in the municipal elections in Brazil boosted the debate about electoral distrust, in which specific episodes of fraud allegations associated to the national elections had little expression.
  • Adjacent episodes and the electoral climate constituted themselves as a bridge to the discursive restructuration of the argument of supposed fraud in the ballots, with greater predominance of the mobilization around paper ballots.
  • The debate about paper ballots is mobilized in all of the main narratives occurred in the analyzed period of 30 days, with highlight to the distrust in security, in transparency, and integrity of the systems of the Supreme Electoral Court.
  • The hashtags #votoimpresso2022 (paper ballots 2022) and #votoimpressojá (paper ballots now) appear among the most shared in the investigated period, adding up to almost 90 thousand mentions.
  • The map of interactions made through the system of recommendations of YouTube shows a predominance of the repercussion of fraud allegations in the elections on the United States among the Brazilian channels. Among alternative and hyper-partisan channels, content from the great press are key elements in attracting adherent audiences to the anti-systemic discourses.
  • The organization and coordination around the topic produced expressive engagement when directed to the criticism to the electoral system; regarding its defense, there was no relevant mobilization.

Posts versus engagement on Facebook
November 01th - 30th

. Fonte: Facebook | Elaboração: FGV DAPP

Evolution of posts per day on Youtube
November 01th - 30th

. Fonte: YouTube | Elaboração: FGV DAPP

Evolution of mentions on Twitter
November 01th - 30th

. Fonte: Twitter | Elaboração: FGV DAPP


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Research Coordination
Marco Aurelio Ruediger
Amaro Grassi

Tatiana Dourado
Victor Piaia
Sabrina Almeida
Danilo Carvalho
Lucas Roberto da Silva
Polyana Sampaio Ramos Barboza

Technical Review
Renata Tomaz

Graphic Project
Luis Gomes
Yan Hill


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