By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the official start of election campaigns, the upcoming Brazilian general elections in October is already being seen as the election where voters will weigh their decision more based on what they read on the Internet than on information coming from TV and radio.
According to analysts, most of the 147.3 million Brazilian voters will choose their next government representatives based on content seen on social networks and instant message applications.
“It has been speculated that this election may be the first election where the internet takes on a leading role,” sociologist and political scientist Antônio Lavareda, told government-run news agency Agencia Brasil.
That is good news for candidates of political parties with little representation in Congress and few alliances. Less representation translates into little time allotted for them in the two daily 25-minutes TV electoral campaign propaganda periods.
These candidates are expected to predominantly turn to the Internet to garner support. That is the case, say analysts, of candidate Jair Bolsonaro, currently in second place in the presidential race, but backed by a party with little Congressional representation and few political alliances. Despite the more than twenty percent of intended votes Bolsonaro has only eight seconds per day to convince voters to vote for him in October.
According to local media, Bolsonaro’s campaign strategists have decided to have him appear on video in major Internet social media outlets outlining his government program, while the TV and radio campaign propaganda periods are on.
With only seconds on the air, the right-wing candidate will ask voters to switch to the Internet to hear his message. According to the logic, he will not only expose his ideas but also make these same voters turn away from his competitors, on TV.
Predicting high volumes of campaign propaganda traffic via Internet, Brazil’s Electoral Court (TSE) established rules earlier this year. Pages with candidate propaganda in popular sites, such as Facebook and Google, must be clearly labeled as ‘electoral propaganda’, while Twitter announced it would not be any propaganda ads on its platform.
Extremely popular cellular telephone app, Whatsapp, has reduced the number of persons in a group one can forward a message from 200 to twenty.