Social Media and (Urban) Social Protest: The Brazilian Experience

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Political communication via the Internet and online social networking sites (SNS) has come to form an inherent part of civil society activism today. Yet the potential of online activism to bring about political change is debated. In 2011/12 the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) conducted an investigation on the analysis of the Brazilian anti-corruption campaign Ficha Limpa (clean record), which was primarily promoted through social media channels. This presentation first provides an overview of the impact of this campaign on the Brazilian political system. Picking up on the Brazilian 2013 urban riots related to a planned increase in public transportation costs and the confederations cup it then proceeds to illustrate the broader implications of online social networks for urban political participation in Brazil. Anita Breuer holds a Master in Area Studies Latin America and received her doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of Cologne in 2008. Since 2011 she holds a post as a senior researcher at the German Development Institute, Bonn, Germany, where her research focuses on the role of the Internet and social media in democracy promotion. She has recently co-edited “Digital technologies for democratic governance in Latin America” (Routledge, 2014) with Yanina Welp.

Transcript of Social Media and (Urban) Social Protest: The Brazilian Experience

  • 1. Social Media and (Urban) Social Protest The Brazilian Experience Prepared for presentation at the International Conference Culture, Economy, Participation and Governance in Latin American Cities, Zentrum fr Demokratie (zda), Aarau, 21 22 February 2014 Anita Breuer Email: anita.breuer@die-gdi.de
  • 2. Implications of Social Media for Political Participation Cyber Optimism Social Media as powerful weapons for social movements (e.g. Shirky 2011) Digital activists as choreographers of social protest Creation of new urban subcultures reappropriation of public space (Gerbaudo 2012) vs. Cyber Skepticism Cyberspace is detached from physical reality Slacktivism is unlikely to produce policy change (e.g. Morozov 2011) German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 2
  • 3. Campanha Ficha Limpa (clean record) Citizen Initiative launched in April 2008 by the Brazilian Movement for the Combat of Corruption (MCCE) Core demand: Ineligibility to run for office for people previously convicted or facing charges for serious crimes (vote buying, electoral fraud, misappropriation of public funds etc.) Formal requirements: 1.3 Mio signatures approval by majority vote of both chambers of Congress German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 3
  • 4. Ficha Limpa and Social Media 43.000 followers on Facebook 11.000 followers on Twitter 66.000 downloads for most watched video on YouTube 5.000 followers on Orkut 2 Mio Signatures in Online Petition by AVAAZ 40.000 Participants in e-mail and Telephone Protest by AVAAZ German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 4
  • 5. Interaction between Social Media &Traditional Media April May 2010: Major media-reported campaign events and related peaks in Facebook activity German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 5
  • 6. Ficha Limpa: A virtual movement with an urban base Share of Facebook Fans by City Population Size Inhabitants: > 1 Mio 500.000 - 999.999 Facebook Fans by origin: Top 10 < 500.000 8.9 % 7.9 % 83.1 % German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 6
  • 7. Ficha Limpa: A movement structured by social background Network Analysis of the Facebook Group Campanha Ficha Limpa do MCCE using Netvizz and Gephi 1 circle (node) = 1 Facebook user / Bigger circles = users with more influence in the network Clusters = nodes that are more densely connected together than with the rest of the network. German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 7
  • 8. Ficha Limpa: a mostly virtual movement Patterns of participation in the Ficha Limpa campaign (Websurvey / 1.800 respondents) German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 8
  • 9. Impact of the Ficha Limpa campaign Macro-Level (Policy Change) Meso-Level (Organizational Actors) Bill approved and promulgated as law in June 2010 Increased cost-effectiveness and efficiency of MCCE as social movement organisation Our budget has always been tight. We didnt have funds to pay for expensive media advertising campaigns [] Social media provided an alternative that enabled us to speak directly to the people without the necessity to pay for publicity. (Marlon Reis, MCCE Director) German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 9
  • 10. Ficha Limpa: Sustainable use of social media Lessons learned from the 2010/11 campaign Professionalization of communication strategy of the MCCE Continued use of social media platforms for campaigning / mobilization purposes German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 10
  • 11. The 2013 Protests Wave of street protests Triggered by a proposed increase in bus fares in June 2013 approx. 1.4 mio participants in 100 Brazilian cities Core demands / concerns Increasing cost of public transportation Inadequate provision of social services Government corruption Exorbitant spending on preparations for the 2014 FIFAWorld Cup Socially conservative legislation German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 11
  • 12. The role of Twitter in orchestrating the 2013 protests Most successful hashtags : #ogiganteacordou (the giant woke up) #vemprarua (come to the streets) #mudaBrasil (change Brazil) #copapraquem (cup for whom) Analysis of Twitter communications about the protests : 1,579,824 tweets between 1st and 22nd June peak of 96,5 tweets/hour recorded on 17th June 2013 at 8:00 pm when protesters invaded the Brazilian Congress. Source: The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jul/04/brazilian-protesters-twitter-microsoft German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 12
  • 13. The 2013 Protests: An urban based movement Involvement of Brazilians on Twitter mapped by Brandviewer (hashtag analyzer tool). woke up Red = regions with the highest number of hashtags related to the movement Source: www.collaborativeconsumption.com German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
  • 14. 2013 Protests: a virtual AND physical movment Participation in urban street protests (9 July 2013) City Rio de Janeiro Number of street protesters 10.000 Salvador 3.000 So Paulo 2.000 Recife 2.000 Brasilia 1.300 Fortaleza 600 Belo Horizonte 600 Londrina 500 Porto Alegre 450 Curitiba 200 Source: Globo.com http://g1.globo.com/brasil/protestos-2013/infografico/platb/ According to representative polls 72% of Brazilians supported the movement online and 10% participated in street protests. German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 14
  • 15. Impact of the 2013 Protests Macro Level (Policy Change) Demand Reduction of public transportation costs (4 municipal governments) Revocation of Bill (PEC 37) limiting the powers of the Public Ministry to investigate criminal activities in the government Destination of petroleum royalties to Education (75%) and Health (25%) National Pact to improve Education, Health, Public Transport (Government announced) National Plan to increase GDP spending on Education to 7% until 2015 (Government announced) Meso Level (Organizational Actors) Status Ambivalent a volatile and incoherent.. Depicted as chaotic and leaderless revolt Heavy media focus on violence and vandalism ..or organized and sustainable movement? Core Civil Society Groups involved: Movimento Passo Livre Movimento Contra Corrupo Civil society groups demanding improved quality of Education and Health Care LGBT rights organizations Revocation of "Gay cure" Bill (PDL 234) authorizing sexual orientation conversion therapy by psychologists German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 15
  • 16. Thank you for your attention! German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) Tulpenfeld 6 D-53113 Bonn Telephone: +49 (0)228-949 27-0 E-Mail: DIE@die-gdi.de www.die-gdi.de www.facebook.com/DIE.Bonn German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fr Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) 16