A mixture of fake news with enthusiastic and coup-like phrases are in the melting pot of publications on Instagram and Facebook that call for the Pocketnarist demonstrations on September 7th. The act, which dresses in support of President Jair Bolsonaro (no party), but also attacks democracy and calls for “a new independence”, has stirred social networks, with a significant increase in publications and engagement in the last 15 days.
A survey carried out by Novelo Data with publications from the last 30 days indicates that, as of August 15, the number of posts and interactions on the topic grow and remain at the same level until now. The numbers point not only to the thermometer of these calls on the networks, but also to a script that coincides, in millimeters, with that of the other two pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations that took place this year.
Guilherme Felitti, founder of Novelo, draws attention to the operation’s model. “[A deputada] Carla Zambelli (PSL-SP) is the one who officially calls for the events”, he says. “It was like that in March, when there was the demonstration on the 14th, and in April, for the demonstration on the 1st of May.” The script always begins with a statement by Bolsonaro, who asks for a “sign”. “The people want it, it’s just for the people to ask,” he said in a live on March 11th. That same day, the parliamentarian, who has more than two million followers on Instagram, called a march against the lockdown for 72 hours.
Now, cornered by investigations at the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) that are targeting his undemocratic and unproven statements, Bolsonaro has again threatened the authorities. Supporters in front of the Alvorada Palace stated, on the 3rd, that if the president of the TSE, Luís Roberto Barroso, continued to be “insensitive” to his appeals against the electoral system, and “if the people so wished”, there would be a demonstration on Avenida Paulista to “give the last message”. On the same day, Carla Zambelli then published the first post calling for the September 7 demonstrations.
The operation also strictly follows the route outlined by the Federal Police in the investigation of the fake news: “The wide use of multiple channels”, and the “elimination of opinion makers intermediaries” to propagate the content. This is because, according to the Novelo survey, Christian profiles, many far-right news channels, pages calling for military intervention, as well as several fan pages of Bolsonaro and former judge Sergio Moro, are called to the streets. Few profiles are of people. “But the entire Pocket Narist ecosystem is there, [a deputada] Bia Kicis (PSL-DF), Allan do Santos, [o deputado] Carlos Jordy (PSL-RJ)”, emphasizes the researcher and journalist. “But nobody comes close to Zambelli”, says Felitti, about the amount of publications and engagement.
With this repetition of the strategy used in other acts in favor of the president, and which were shy compared to the opposition’s demonstrations in the same year, Glauco Peres, professor of political science at USP, raises doubts about the adhesion this September 7th. “The act now has a long preparation, trying to be a big movement”, he says. “But I don’t know if it has all this support.”
He warns, however, of a new factor. “What we must see now is whether or not there will be support from the law enforcement agencies, whether the police will appear”, he says. “And this flirting is dangerous. Bolsonaro has been looking for support there and apparently there is some, so this demonstration could be a good example of how far this force goes.”
Support our journalism. Subscribe to EL PAÍS by clicking here
sign up on here to receive the daily newsletter of EL PAÍS Brasil: reports, analyses, exclusive interviews and the main information of the day in your e-mail, from Monday to Friday. sign up also to receive our weekly newsletter on Saturdays, with highlights of coverage for the week.