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MBL - Movimento Brasil Livre/YouTube

Could these right-wing Brazilian YouTubers take over politics with memes?

'YouTubers in Brazil are more influential than politicians.'


Josh Katzowitz

Internet Culture

Published Oct 22, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 3:31 am CDT

Kim Kataguiri is a 22-year-old YouTuber from Brazil. He’s been compared to Milo Yiannopoulos, and his social media channels have been compared to Breitbart. He and his network are right-wingers in a country facing political upheaval.

Kataguiri also might soon be one of the most powerful men in Brazil.

In an extensive feature by BuzzFeed, Kataguiri and others discuss how YouTubers could potentially end up dominating politics in the country. Considering Kataguiri is the youngest person ever to be elected to the Brazilian Congress and could be in line for the equivalent of the speaker of the house, the movement has won plenty of momentum, thanks in large part to YouTube and the spreading of memes on WhatsApp.

Kataguiri is the leader of Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL)—translated to the Free Brazil Movement—and he said, according to BuzzFeed, that MBL “is just a bunch of young people who love free market economics and memes.” Now, though, MBL has more than 1 million YouTube subscribers and a total of nearly 4 million followers spread across other social media platforms, and six people from the movement recently won federal elections.

BuzzFeed wrote that 40 percent of the group’s funding is available because of revenue from YouTube ads and that you can expect all six of the newly elected candidates to begin their own YouTube channels to create an evergrowing MBL network.

In his interview, Kataguiri dismissed Infowars as too conspiratorial, but he agreed with many right-wing commentators in the U.S. that Facebook victimizes conservatives. He’s also tried to get more popular than President Donald Trump on Facebook (he told BuzzFeed that in 2016, MBL got more engagement than Trump on Facebook for three days), and he’s studied Breitbart’s relationship with the conservative moment leading up to Trump’s election.

“During the 2016 elections in Brazil, we studied how it was working in the United States because the benchmark of everything that’s happening in politics is the United States,” he told BuzzFeed. “So we studied what was happening there, in terms of politics, especially with the tea party and the communication with Breitbart.”

But MBL isn’t getting as much engagement as Facebook as in the past, so it’s focusing more on YouTube, which Kataguiri said has allowed the group to reach an even younger audience. It’s also putting much of its attention to sharing memes on the popular WhatsApp platform to attract more attention for MBL’s ideas. Those strategies appear to be working.

“I guarantee YouTubers in Brazil are more influential than politicians,” Arthur Mamãe Falei, a new elected official from MBL, said.

You can read the entire BuzzFeed piece here.

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2018, 12:55 pm CDT