Social media finally overtakes TV news in Brazil

. Jun 16, 2020
Social media getting more eyeballs for news than TV Photo: Kovop58/Shutterstock

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We’re covering the transformation of Brazilians’ news consumption — social media rises, print falls. The launch of WhatsApp Pay. And the Supreme Court hitting back at far-right activists. 

Social media getting more eyeballs for news than TV

Launched today, the Reuters Digital News Report shows

that, for the first time, social media has overtaken television in terms of news media consumption. That could be linked to the fact that 84 percent of Brazilians, more than any other nationality, have deep concerns about what is real and what is fake when it comes to the news.</p> <ul><li>The report only takes into account people who have consumed the news over the past month. In Brazil&#8217;s case, that means the data comes from richer and more connected users, rather than a nationally representative sample.</li></ul> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2862389" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> The use of social media has democratized information in Brazil. It has also created an environment that favors the scalable spread of disinformation.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Politics.</strong> Among the 40 surveyed countries, local politicians were described as the leading disinformation actors.&nbsp;Brazil — alongside the U.S., the Philippines, and South Africa — had the highest rate of people who agreed with that statement.</p> <ul><li>In the 2018 election, every single major campaign had an army of social media bots and fake WhatsApp accounts used to smear opponents. That includes President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s campaign — which is under investigation in a case that could unseat him and his vice president.</li></ul> <p><strong>Danger ahead.</strong> Readership of print news in Brazil has halved since 2013 —&nbsp;and the Covid-19 crisis is likely to hit the sector hard. Newsrooms in the country have been forced to lay workers off and cut wages in order to cope with the crisis. But it remains a <a href="">bleak scenario for a Brazilian media industry</a> that still struggles to embrace online platforms as their key medium.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>WhatsApp gets into the payment business</h2> <p>After months of anticipation, messaging app WhatsApp has finally launched its payments function —&nbsp;and Brazil will be its first testing ground. According to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (WhatsApp&#8217;s parent company), the new technology will make “sending and receiving money as easy as sharing photos.”</p> <ul><li>That statement might be a stretch, though. The money will only be available for recipients after one business day (in debit payments — two days for credit).</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> The payments market in Brazil is already a <a href="">cut-throat market</a><strong> </strong>as it is. Now, the most downloaded app in Brazil (130 million monthly users) has entered the game.</p> <p><strong>Yes, but … </strong>The use of WhatsApp Pay will not be as widespread as one might imagine —&nbsp;at least not at first. The digital wallet will only be available for clients of Nubank, Banco do Brasil, and Sicredi — and will only accept Visa and Mastercard. Vendors must also be members of WhatsApp for Business.</p> <p><strong>Western WeChat?</strong> Facebook and WhatsApp have been accused of facilitating the spread of fake news and undermining democracies. That raises the question of whether users will massively adhere and surrender their financial information to the company. As of now, it remains unclear whether or not the new payment gateway will be able to transform itself in a &#8220;<a href="">super app</a>&#8221; —&nbsp;at least not in the same way WeChat has managed in China.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>The girl with the Nazi tattoo</h2> <p>After a series of demonstrations against democratic institutions, far-right activist Sara Winter, née Sara Giromini, was arrested on Monday alongside five other people. Ms. Winter is the leader of the group &#8220;Brazil&#8217;s 300,&#8221; which claims to be forming “an army that will exterminate the left, and corruption.” Prosecutor General Augusto Aras says she and her acolytes are &#8220;raising money&#8221; for illegal actions, such as threatening the lives of heads of the country&#8217;s government branches.</p> <ul><li>On Saturday, the group shot fireworks at the Supreme Court building as a &#8220;message&#8221; to the 11 justices.</li></ul> <p><strong>Investigation.</strong> The arrests happened under the scope of the Supreme Court&#8217;s Fake News probe, which started as an investigation into threats made against justices online. In a video posted on social media in May, Ms. Winter said: &#8220;We know where [Justice] Alexandre de Moraes lives. We will camp in front of his home.&#8221;</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Brazil&#8217;s 300 is a pro-Bolsonaro pressure group, and has been considered by authorities an armed militia, which is illegal in Brazil. The president denied any connection to it —&nbsp;but did not condemn their actions.</p> <p><strong>Who is Sara Winter?</strong> Sara Winter is 27 years old and defines herself as a right-wing Catholic ex-feminist. Almost ten years ago, she founded the Brazilian chapter of Ukrainian feminist activism group Femen&nbsp;— but left the group after being accused of sympathy for Nazism.&nbsp;<em><strong><a href="">Read more</a></strong></em>.</p> <ul><li>While she denies being a nao-Nazi herself, she has admitted to having contact with such groups online, even sympathizing with some of their ideas. She even tattooed an Iron Cross on her chest — which she later covered with a floral design.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>Government.</strong> After Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida <a href="">announced his departure</a>, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes confirmed that economist Bruno Funchal, who works in the ministry, will be his replacement. The transition will happen on July 31.</li><li><strong>Aviation.</strong> Brazilian planemaker Embraer obtained a USD 600-million loan for working capital. The much-needed deal will help the company weather the coronavirus crisis, especially after its <a href="">merger with Boeing fell through</a>. Half of the loan will be provided by Brazil&#8217;s National Development Bank —&nbsp;and the other half by a pool of private and public banks.</li><li><strong>Impeachment.</strong> The impeachment trial against Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel starts today. The governor is accused of embezzling funds that should have gone to the Covid-19 fight, and must present his defense over up to ten State Congress sittings.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Chloroquine.</strong> The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked its authorization for <a href="">chloroquine use on Covid-19 patients</a>, claiming the antimalarial drug is unlikely to be effective against the coronavirus. On the same day, the Brazilian Health Ministry made a recommendation that the drug be used on children and pregnant women with Covid-19, stating that the government is &#8220;safe and assured&#8221; about where it stands.</li><li><strong>Gig economy.</strong> With delivery sales exploding amid the pandemic, app workers plan a protest on July 1 to demand better working conditions. They want better wages, insurance for theft or accidents, and protective equipment to shield themselves coronavirus infections. Work for delivery, courier, and transport app companies is one of the <a href="">main drivers of positive recent job creation numbers</a> — the market is estimated at 4 million people.</li><li><strong>Police.</strong> In the wake of worldwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the U.S., the São Paulo police department caused 116 deaths in April, the highest number of monthly killings on record. On Monday, 14 officers were put on leave and under investigation after images of brutality against unarmed and compliant men surfaced on social media. Governor João Doria, who in 2018 promised his police would &#8220;<a href="">shoot to kill</a>,&#8221; called the events &#8220;outrageous.&#8221;

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