The opposition to ousted Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta has managed to galvanize President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters on social media — and increased their presence in the debate over Covid-19, according to a report by Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Department of Public Policy Analysis (FGV/DAPP).
Data also shows that the overall number of tweets about the pandemic has been decreasing — and the debate has become more polarized. While researchers registered an average of 4 million daily mentions of Covid-19 on Twitter, this median fell to 3 million posts per day in April. “The intermediate base, which still concentrates roughly 50 percent of the debate, is losing ground, mostly because of the intensive action of [Jair] Bolsonaro’s supporters to back the presidents’ actions during the crisis,” said the report.
The online opposition to the administration — including profiles from the left to the center-right — has also gained ground and has a relatively stable presence in the debate, with researchers saying it “has better organization skills (and higher volume) than President Bolsonaro’s support base”.
Mandetta matters on Facebook, WhatsApp focuses on chloroquine and China
Articles regarding the repercussion of Mr. Mandetta’s April 12 interview on TV Globo — which later sealed his dismissal — generated the largest amount of impressions on Facebook between April 8 and 16, says the report. However, on WhatsApp Messenger, where data was collected between April 13 and 16, the most-shared news pieces were about controversial antimalaria drug chloroquine, which has been praised by Mr. Bolsonaro, or attacks on China. One such story claimed that a doctor linked to the left-leaning Workers’ Party had killed a patient with an overdose of chloroquine, while another said India accused China of using Covid-19 as a biological weapon. Neither story is true.
The anatomy of a crisis
- Who is Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Brazil’s Health Minister (for the time being)
- Brazilians disapprove of Bolsonaro’s approach, but don’t want him to resign
- Health Minister’s approval rating dwarfs Bolsonaro’s
- Bolsonaro threatens cabinet firings: “Their time will come”
- Bolsonaro decides to fire his Health Minister. Then doesn’t