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Twitter, Fandom and Anti-Fandom in Brazil

The final presenters in this AoIR 2012 session are Camila Monteiro, Raquel Recuero, and Adriana Amaral, who begin by noting the demographics of Twitter in Brazil: there are some 33 million Brazilian Twitter users, most of whom are adolescents. Their interest in this paper is especially in fandom and anti-fandom around the pop band Restart, and in the social capital which such activities create and maintain.

Many of the trending topics in Brazil are focussed on popular music, in fact, and fans seem to artificially attempt to create such trending topics. The researchers engaged in interviews with fans as well as content analysis of tweets in order to better understand Restart fan practices. Fans also display their Twitter accounts and hashtags on their posters and t-shirts, and interact with one another even offline by their usernames.

The maintenance of fandom status is a considerable pressure for fans, who must perform their fan activities on an everyday basis. This is done through continuous retweeting as well as follow-back networks, but following back happens only for users considered to be deserving fans – newbies are not accepted easily. The fans also actively pay tribute to their idols (e.g. through hashtags), and promote the band (by coordinating requests to domestic and international radio stations and festivals).

These activities activate the fan groups (also showing their resilience in the face of negative comments about the band); fans tweet everything with the hashtag of the moment, set up a relay system of heavy tweeting activity to avoid being caught by Twitter's spam filters, and even engage in reciprocal support activities for fans of other groups.

Some of this also results in tweeting battles between fans and anti-fans, but the fans are usually much better organised and coordinated, while anti-fandom activities are more random. This indicates much stronger social ties between fans than between anti-fans.