University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

David Nemer (UVA), "From Misinformation to Extremism: How WhatsApp Is Affording Radicalization in Brazil"

November 22, 2019

Talk description: During the 2018 Brazilian general election, WhatsApp became a potent tool for the spread of misinformation, especially for supporters of Bolsonaro. I began monitoring pro-Bolsonaro WhatsApp groups in March 2018- at the outset of the election, the social media app eventually helped Bolsonaro win and become the president of Brazil. I found that fake news spread in typical fashion, through a structure of groups that resembled a pyramid. Now, ten months into Bolsonaro’s presidency, WhatsApp is still serving as a largely hidden platform for the radicalization of right-wing Brazilians, even as Bolsonaro’s once-united base has splintered into separate, and often competing, factions. In this talk, I uncover hidden spaces of populism and misinformation on WhatsApp and detail the social infrastructure that is radicalizing the right in Brazil.

Bio: David Nemer is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. His research and teaching interests cover the intersection of Science and Technology Studies (STS), ICT for Development (ICT4D), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Nemer is an ethnographer whose fieldworks include the Slums of Vitória, Brazil; Havana, Cuba; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Eastern Kentucky, Appalachia. Nemer is the author of Favela Digital: The other side of technology (Editora GSA, 2013). He holds a Ph.D. in Computing, Culture, and Society from Indiana University and an M.Sc. in Computer Science from Saarland University. Nemer has written for The Guardian, El País, The Huffington Post (HuffPost), and The Intercept. 


Homer Statue
Wilson Hall 142
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm