2 minutes reading time (350 words)

The dictatorship of the like

The dictatorship of the like Nando Moura

There is no doubt that many countries are locked in a culture war. Whilst many may consider the UK and US as being the hotspots of this digital battle, it’s also being actively fought - if that’s the right term - in Brazil.

The NYT has published a piece which has charted the growth of YouTube videos from right-wing nutjobs popping up on the recommendation panel of Brazilian citizens, and the effect of their consumption on the national psyche. Indeed, Jair Bolsonaro, the horror show currently running the country, first gained notoriety through his rants on YouTube.

As is the case with right-wing video channels around the world, Brazil is now starting to professionalise its culture war - young, good-looking video producers are now setting up their own studios to make polished versions of these nationalist, history-denying videos.

Ground zero for politics by YouTube may be the São Paulo headquarters of Movimento Brasil Livre, which formed to agitate for the 2016 impeachment of the left-wing President Dilma Rousseff. Its members trend young, middle-class, right-wing and extremely online.

Renan Santos, the group's national coordinator, gestured to a door marked "the YouTube Division" and said, "This is the heart of things."

Inside, eight young men poked at editing software. One was stylizing an image of Benito Mussolini for a video arguing that fascism had been wrongly blamed on the right.

But even some people here fear the platform's impact on democracy. Mr. Santos, for example, called social media a "weapon," adding that some people around Mr. Bolsonaro "want to use this weapon to pressure institutions in a way that I don't see as responsible."

The group's co-founder, a man-bunned former rock guitarist named Pedro D'Eyrot, said "we have something here that we call the dictatorship of the like."

Max Fisher / Amanda Taub

This is recommended reading for those in digital agencies (charting the increasing professionalism of politically-charged material) and, of course, political observers charting the increasing juggernaut-ness of this phenomenon. And, inevitably as you’ll see in the article, Google has absolved much of its responsibility as a publisher.

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