Testimonial tweeting: People’s voice (and eyes) on anti-impeachment protests in Brazil

Though the idea of horizontal networked, bottom-up communication processes is present in many discussions of the role of digital media in the context of social movements, not many studies point to the processes behind the creation and publication of authorial testimonial content by regular people, that is, content produced in situ at the heat of the moment whose author is neither media nor political actors.Through 10 interviews structured according to Proulx and colleagues’ ICT social appropriation framework (2017), with users that have created and published such type of content on Twitter with the hashtag #ForaTemer in the aftermath of Rousseff’s impeachment in Brazil in 2016.

This paper discusses why and how ordinary people take media matters in their own hands as a form of political action, even though it may apparently be dressed up with different communicative functions, such as emulating the pretense neutrality and objectivity of media discourse. Findings point to a convergent media critique as main motivator, followed by the aim to connect the absent and to scrutinize police abuse. The aggregated result seems to point to a manifestation of collective intelligence, characterized by swarm-like logics and alienation from the complete result of the #ForaTemer publications.