Study by FGV Communication Rio analyzes debate on tragedy in RS on social media: clash between public and private stands out

The research "Between the Public and the Private: disinformation, acts of solidarity, and digital mobilization of the RS tragedy" identified themes discussed on social media about the tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul.

The study "Between Public and Private: misinformation, solidarity actions, and digital mobilization in the tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul" was conducted by FGV Communication Rio, as part of the Media and Democracy project, focusing on the digital debate surrounding the rains in Rio Grande do Sul. It analyzed interactions and predominant narratives on platforms such as X, Facebook, and Instagram from May 1st to May 15th.

The discussion about the crisis on X exploded on May 1st with a nationalized and polarized character, focusing on six main groups: right-wing, left-wing, donation campaign organizers, entertainment pages, fan club pages, and common profiles. There's a trend of personification, competing over who is doing more for the state—whether it's the state government represented by the Governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite; the federal sphere; or influencers and civil society, such as Pablo Marçal. The study mapped the 50 most central users, noting a significant predominance of private profiles on both the left and right sides, overshadowing political actors and organizations. However, other groups consisting of "ordinary" people also play a relevant role in the discussion.

On Instagram, the most influential posts were those from influencers and celebrities who articulated support for the victims of the rains. Names such as DJ Alok, comedian Whindersson Nunes, model Gisele Bundchen, and the winner of BBB 24, Davi, had the most impactful posts on the platform. Interestingly, there was an absence of political figures in the discussion. For instance, two of the most far-reaching posts were from surfer Pedro Scooby and the humor page Gina Indelicada. Additionally, other gossip and entertainment pages contributed to driving the debate on the social network.

There was a predominance on Facebook of pages of various types, ranging from traditional media outlets to partisan media from both the left and right, including sports and regional media focused on southern cities. These pages featured actions by influencers alongside practical news updates, such as information on the risks of the rains and the situation in cities. Additionally, media outlets linked to celebrity culture, such as Caras, Contigo, Quem, and the website Splash UOL, were mapped as well.

In terms of governmental entities, the Government of Rio Grande do Sul, Civil Defense, and some municipalities were the only ones highlighted as key actors. As for the topics discussed on the Meta social network, seven analytical themes were identified: Solidarity actions, accounting for 41.65% of interactions; Climate tragedy, with 41.02%; Animal rescue, making up 8.88% of interactions; Misinformation and offensive discourse, at 4.41%; Economy, at 2.34%; Public safety, at 1.63%; and Reports of sexual nature, at 0.06%.

Access the full study here.


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