The foremost headline from Brazil after the last presidential election, which concluded October 31, was that South America’s largest democracy selected its first female president, Dilma Rousseff.
The first of anything is often good enough to make a story. But the first woman president…of Brazil…equals an obvious lead to a story.
But there was another aspect of the last presidential cycle here in Brazil that was also very different and novel but which received much less attention: The role of social media vis-à-vis the Brazilian media establishment. This year marked the first national election in Brazil where social media carved a niche in the political landscape of Brazil.
Consider these facts…
INTERNET USERS: Brazil officially has about 67 million internet users, but most experts who follow this sort of stuff say the number is probably in upwards of 73 million, or roughly 6 to 10 million more users than just 2 years ago. The sudden augmentation of the Brazilian middle class in the past 4 years has a lot to do with this trend, as more and more people have access to disposable income to buy computers and internet access.
TWITTER: Brazil has become the world’s second biggest users of Twitter behind the United States. About 8.7% of all Twitter users come from Brazil. While the number of Twitter users is declining in the U.S., it’s increasing sharply in Brazil. Brazilian footballer Kak? has 2.3 million followers, while American basketball star LeBron James barely has 1 million. Breaking news to America: The world does not revolve around your sports stars. But I digress… In Brazil Twitter reaches 23% of those online, the highest penetration of Twitter users anywhere in the world.
FACEBOOK: A year ago there were about 1.5 million visitors from Brazil to Facebook. Today there are about 8.6 million, according to a report by comScore. Brazil is one of the places with the highest growth of Facebook users.
ORKUT: I know, people reading this from the U.S. or Britain are asking, “What in the world is Orkut?” Short answer: It’s Google’s version of Facebook and it never really caught fire in most of the world. But Orkut is wildly popular in Brazil and has been long before Mark Zuckerberg's little web site ever came to town. In September of this year there were about 36 million unique visitors to Orkut from Brazil alone. It's the single most-used social networking site in all of Brazil.
Photo of headlines from some of Brazil's print media establishment. [AJE]
But in the last presidential election what was the role of this new social media wave in Brazil that was steaming head-first into the big, powerful, and buttoned down Brazilian traditional media establishment?
That is partly the question journalists at The Listening Post, Al Jazeera’s weekly media programme, examined more closely in a recent episode.
The segment about Brazil starts near minute 12:55 into the programme.
Here is the full show: