← Volume 12: Challenges and Perspectives of Hate Speech Research


Bolsonaro’s Hate Network

From the fringes to the presidency

Afonso de Albuquerque & Marcelo Alves

Berlin, 2023
DOI 10.48541/dcr.v12.2 (SSOAR)

Abstract: This chapter discusses the origins, development, and characteristics the hate network built around the President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro. How is it structured? How does it work? What factors have allowed it to exist? How does it affect the health of Brazilian democracy? It argues that Bolsonaro’s followers took advantage from an institutional crisis taking place in the late 2010s. At that time, the legacy media provided a massive coverage associating PT (Workers‘ Party), which was ahead of the presidency, to corruption, thus fostering a hate campaign against it. In that scenario, Bolsonaro emerged as the leader of the far-right opposition to PT. His followers firstly built a network on Facebook, using fake profiles and mixing hate speech with humor. Coordinated unofficially by several cabinet staff members, this network articulates the official profiles of the Bolsonaro family to followers and sympathizers and a vast array of anonymous supporting pages. This structure allowed Bolsonaro’s activists to blur the boundaries between official and spurious discourses, and powered a series of flaming wars against political adversaries and reporters perceived as hostile to Bolsonaro’s interests.


Afonso de Albuquerque is Professor at the Graduate Program in Communication at the Fluminense Federal University, Brazil. ORCID logo

Marcelo Alves is Professor at the Graduate Program in Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (PPGCOM/PUC-Rio). ORCID logo

de Albuquerque, A., & Alves, M. (2023). Bolsonaro’s hate network: From the fringes to the presidency. In C. Strippel, S. Paasch-Colberg, M. Emmer, & J. Trebbe (Eds.), Challenges and perspectives of hate speech research (pp. 27-42). Digital Communication Research. https://doi.org/10.48541/dcr.v12.2

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