An usage of Whatsapp in Rio
This is the summary of an article written by Jacqueline Lafloufa & Jefferson Puff and published on restofworld.org.
The article titled Platform & Dysfunction describe how people in Rio de Janeiro are using WhatsApp to compensate the lack of infrastructure and government support regarding public services.
Waiting for the bus
The story begins by describing Felipe Fagundes waiting for a bus at a bus stop. After more than one hour long of wait, he asked and old man next to him if the bus he is waiting for will come at some point. Felipe, like many other Cariocas (people living in Rio) took the habit to check the bus timetable on Google Maps and left plenty of time.
The man answers Felipe that yes "but only when it feels like it". Felipe left the bus stand while canceling his appointment when he saw the bus he was waiting for go past him.
Felipe complains to his roommate and learn about a jeitinho (a workaround); there is on whatsapp route-specific group chat.
A jeithino, portuguese word for little way that we could translate to shortcut, describes a alternative way of doing things while people are trying to fix what the government or the market couldn't provide them.
“Brazilians don’t trust that the government and institutions will solve their problems, so they don’t expect things will get better with a proper bureaucratic complaint” says the Brazilian professor David Nemer, so they find different ways to solve their problems.
More than half of Brazilian people are using both Whatsapp and Facebook. They use the discussion groups to fix daily issues, avoid gang violence and get on time to work.
These group discussion are very popular amongst Brazillian people because one day they might get you out of a gun fights.
Whatsapp is nor good nor bad
At some point some people might think about Whatsapp or Facebook as the internet.
Random civilian are managing these discussion and so, must act as community managers and content censors.
At the end of the article, the authors want to bring attention on the fact that Whatsapp and Facebook are playing a growing role in Brazilian life and that it might have consequences on civic life. This is a broader subject that it seems because wanting Facebook and Whatsapp (which is a Facebook-owned company) to act as content managers and censors, mean that we are willing to let them have a bigger impact on what content we are consuming. Is this really what we want?