In contrast, conservative profiles centered their discussion on posts made by President Jair Bolsonaro about institutional measures focused on developing and benefiting agriculture and small producers, such releasing the water from the Juá dam, in Pernambuco, and distributing more 15 than thousand tons of food for indigenous populations in Brazil. These profiles were concentrated in the blue group (29.16% of the profiles), in Figure 5, and represented the second highest number of interactions about the topic (26.79%). This group also celebrated the inauguration o the minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, who was elected to preside the Inter-American Board of Agriculture, and the concession of more than R$ 3 million for technical assistance to organic producers by the federal government.
In the case of the pink (3.30% of the profiles) and orange (9.19% of the profiles) groups, the posts had a transversal nature, since they discussed other issues in addition to family farming, such as indigenous issues, deforestation, the water crisis, the exploitation of the Cerrado region, and environmental crimes. In the orange group, the account @empatillada had the highest level of engagement due to a publication about the dispute between vegans and the indigenous population regarding killing animals for food. It is important to highlight that the orange group had the engagement of indigenous profiles and indigenists about the topic of agriculture and other transversal topics.
It is interesting that, on Facebook, the topic of family farming is more associated with economic than political and social opinions, while on Twitter there are intense political discussions around the topic, including other issues related to the environmental debate.
On Facebook, the concern with the supply chain for supermarkets and the general population stood out among the topics with the most engagement in the debate, as well as the measures taken by the federal government to benefit small farmers. Even left-wing posts focused on the food safety of society, mentioning the role of the MST and its solidarity kitchen in supplying food for people in vulnerable situations.
On Twitter, two large groups stood out: those debating the death of a farmer and those showing enthusiasm regarding the measures taken by the federal government, motivated by institutional posts. In addition, two other groups with a lower level of engagement mentioned important topics: indigenous issues and the need to protect their lands and culture despite the deforestation and the advance of extensive agriculture into these communities’ territories, and the association of a debate around family farming, particulary in small properties, with issues related to the water crisis, forest fires and deforestation.
2.3 – Energy and the water crisis
The debate on social networks regarding energy and water crisis in the country was mobilized by several profiles – political actors, media channels (traditional and alternative), and content portals about petroleum and fuels in general –, but the polarization between political fields stands out in this topic.
On Facebook, between June and the middle of September, 2021, this topic was the subject of approximately 2.25 thousand posts, which reached more than 15.7 thousand interactions, including reactions, comments and shares. The discussion focused mostly on fuel prices in Brazil, which have been increasing steadily in the past moths and has become the subject of a dispute of opinions on the platform (usually with a political bias).
On one side, profiles of government members and allied politicians – @jairmessias.bolsonaro, @ZambelliOficial, @biakicisoficial, @filipebarrosoficial and @carlosjordyoficial – insist on the idea that the federal government has taken measures to reduce taxes and, consequently, decrease the value of fuel. They attribute the price increases to taxes related to the state governments. Some of their posts shared information about the potential reduction in energy prices with the privatization of Eletrobras and published about agreements and policies developed for the program Biogas: transforming waste into energy, an initiative by the Ministry of the Environment – together with associations such as ABCP, ABETRE, ABRELPE e ABIOGAS – to reduce bureaucracy in the energy recovery of solid waste and solve an environmental problem related to energy in Brazil.
Another highlight both in terms of strong engagement and frequency was a post made in the context of the classic actors in institutional politics: the live broadcast made by President Jair Bolsonaro, in which he offered clarifications about the construction of the Ramal do Apodi in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. According to the broadcast, this infrastructure work is a part of the north axis of the Integration Project for the São Francisco River and will benefit several states in the Northeast. The broadcast emphasized the distance covered by the Ramal, 115.3 kilometers in range, and the amount invested in it by the federal government, around R$ 938.5 million.
Left-wing, center-left and center politicians came together to oppose and criticize the federal government. In this context, the highlights were @AndreJanones, @depmarcomaia and @gleisi.hoffmann, who emphasized the increase in electricity bills. Mentions to this increase made comparisons between the inflation and other aspects of the Brazilian economic situation, such as the end of the Emergency Aid, the lack of adjustments in the value of installments for the Bolsa Família Program, and the increase in the prices of products such as rice and meat.
In addition to political actors, traditional and alternative media profiles such as @quebrandootabu, @g1 and @MidiaNINJA emphasized the constant increase in electricity bills, cooking gas and fuel, blaming the federal administration and the policies of Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. On the other hand, communication channels more aligned with the federal government, such as @cpgbr, publish information on renewable energy and the potential for job creation with the development of new energy enterprises in the country.
It is important to highlight that the posts commented about how river droughts have affected the daily lives of locations that depend on the water channels for transportation, and demanded more accessible prices for cooking gas, considering that refineries follow the international levels of import prices, in addition to the transport and insurance costs.
In the same period on Twitter (between June and the middle of September, 2021), the debate about energy issues and the water crisis reached more than half a million posts. The moment with the most engagement in this period was June 17, when the topic reached around 37 thousand mentions on the platform. The publications highlighted the privatization of Eletrobras in a strongly polarized and politicized debate. On one hand, politicians aligned with left-wing and center-left ideologies stated that hydroelectric plants have a lower cost and, therefore, are more accessible than the gas-based thermoelectric plants, meaning that the departure of Eletrobras from Brazil will incur a higher cost and compromise the income of consumers even more. On the other hand, the allies of the federal government defend the privatization and consider it a positive measure that can have immediate consequences in the country’s economy, reducing electricity bills and intensifying the company’s recovery in terms of investments and energy transmission.