Sergio Barbosa (2021) WhatsAppers for Social Good: Local Community Response to Covid-19 in Brazil

The so-called “WhatsAppers” constitute a local community of activists and concerned citizens who use WhatsApp to promote networks of solidarity in Brazil. Since the app’s launch,WhatsApp is increasingly appropriated for social good by activists, not only for “hanging-out” with like-minded people, but it has also become a key platform for twenty-first century politics, particularly in the Global South – when compared to other Western countries.

Embedded in the literature of digital activism and digital sociology, this policy brief analyses the role played by WhatsAppers in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Brazil. Data was collected between March and July 2020 through digital ethnography.

The aim is to capture how WhatsAppers communicate at the local level, while enhancing a common agenda of solidarity and care. Finally, this brief provides some recommendations for governments to engage with WhatsApp groups endorsed by local communities.

This policy brief is available in English, Portuguese and Spanish.