Social media was made for Brazilians

September 18, 2016

 

Social media was certainly made for Brazilians, and by some as well.

There is no shame in a selfie in this country and privacy settings are often left to a minimum.

 

All is on display here which is a lot like Brazilian culture, and being social media, well, you can imagine here it's pretty damn social. Think of it as just like a day at the beach - big smiles, eyes darting around, lots of laughs.

Young women take photos of themselves and get showered with compliments and hundreds of likes. You’ll definitely see “linda” for beautiful, “gostosa” for hot, “gata” and “gatinha” for cat and kitten, “bonita” for beautiful and “saudades” for I miss you.

 

With 40% of Brazil's 200 million population aged under 25 the market for people wanting to share stuff is huge. It's predicted to smash through 100 million active Facebook users by early 2018, third behind India and the USA.

 

Although made in San Francisco, Brazilian Mike Krieger, 30, from Sao Paulo helped co-found Instagram which was sold in 2012 to Facebook for $1 billion.

 

Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg's righthand man in creating Facebook, Eduardo Severin, 34, who was famously portrayed in The Social Network movie, was born in the same city before moving to America to study.

 

The social media giant bought Whatsapp for $20 billion in 2014 due in large part to the devotion of over 100 million Brazilians to the online messaging app.

 

 

For a country which barely had broadband internet ten years ago it is a massive transformation. But it hasn't come without its problems.

 

This year videos and images of one of Brazil's worst crime's in recent memory, the alleged drugging and gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by upwards of 30 gun-carrying males in Rio, were spread across social media by her attackers.

 

It led to a wave of protests across the country, part of a wider global anti-rape and anti-slut-shaming movement driven through social media.

 

Recent data shows Latin Americans spend more time on social media per month than any other region. The average Brazilian logs on for 8.8 hours per month.

 

Taking this crown over Asia is impressive when you think of the mass connectivity in Japan, China and South Korea, but it’s not surprising once you’ve been here. Whereas Asians might prefer gaming, Brazilians love looking at each other and showing themselves off.

 

Serious romantic relationships will often be made Facebook official here too. If you date a Brazilian then they’ll usually drop little comments to let everyone know that you’re theirs. 

 

Obviously this is all not unique to Brazil, the same happens in Australia and across the world, but they take it to their own carefree level. Like I said, just look at a typical Brazilian beach for the embodiment of its online self.

 

 

It's not all selfies and snapchats though with news, politics, crime and of course football all spoken and argued about on social media day and night.

 

The centre of the greatest social media storm ever in Brazil has been the tumultuous recent impeachment of its first female president, Dilma Rousseff, over corruption charges in an ordeal far too complex to properly explain here. 

 

But the result has been an ideological wedge driven through the country, the youthful #foratemer movement calling to get rid of the now replacement president Michel Temer on one side, and those sick of the Dilma's left-leaning government wanting change on the other.

 

Turning people's attention briefly away were the eruptions of digital pride with each Olympic medal last month, none more so than Neymar's winning penalty for Brazil's's first football gold in history. And of course there was lots of internet hate for Ryan Lochte too.


So if you make some friends with Brazilians on social media don’t expect them to be shy from giving you a like or an enthusiastic comment, they'll without a doubt be some of the most fun people you have online.

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I'm Ian Walker, an Australian freelance journalist and travel writer who ditched his job as a full-time newspaper reporter to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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