Popular poll does not make Bolsonaro official Time magazine’s personality of the year


It is misleading that President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) was voted personality of the year by Time magazine, contrary to what Facebook posts verified by Projeto Comprova claim. The result cited by the authors and released on December 7 refers to the survey carried out annually by the publication on the internet, which does not represent the final result, as already informed by leaf.

The final choice will be made public on December 13th. One poll is not directly related to the other, although editors can agree on the result of the poll.

Bolsonaro received 24% of the total 9 million votes cast online. Following, appear the former president of the United States Donald Trump, with 9%, and, in third, with 6.3% of the votes, health services professionals who acted against Covid-19. In the article about the first places in the poll, the magazine highlights that the choice of the personality with the greatest influence in the year is made “for better or for worse”.

Comprova contacted the profiles that published misleading information, but did not get a response until the publication of this investigation. Misleading, according to Comprova, is all content taken from its original context so that its meaning changes.

How do we check?

Initially, we performed a Google search with the keywords that involve the theme: Bolsonaro, Time and personality.

An article by Estadão on the subject, published on the 8th of this month, differentiates the popular vote from the choice made by the editors of the American magazine, which, yes, is definitive. Another text consulted, from the German website DW, makes the same distinction between the two stages.

The article also used Time magazine’s own database to clarify historical facts about the magazine’s editions.

Of four publications with the same content investigated by Comprova, two are marked as untrue by Facebook. The article contacted the authors of posts that contain disinformation, but had no return until the publication of this text.


popular poll

The vote that Bolsonaro won was open to the public, and supporters of the president formed groups on the Telegram to encourage participation. “Vote for Bolsonaro in the American magazine poll and make Bonner cry by breaking the news of the president’s victory,” wrote one user in the group “Bolsonaro Presidente”, which counts 10,276 members.

Another member of the same group shared a fake cover, with a montage of Bolsonaro’s image against a neutral magazine background, with the title, in English, “Person of the Year”. There is also a caption beside the photo with the words “Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil and leader of the free world”.

Diferentemente de apoiadores, o perfil do presidente no Twitter reconheceu que Bolsonaro não foi escolhido oficialmente. The representative thanked the votes received and expressed the wish that the magazine grant him the final prize.

Before that, in a weekly live broadcast on November 25, Bolsonaro even commented on the opening of the popular poll. “Time magazine is doing a poll there, as it has been doing for decades, personality of the year. There are one hundred people. I was among the one hundred people in 2019 and 2020. And now, in 21, we are leading. So, I thank those who voted for me. If you didn’t vote, I ask you to go to Time’s website and vote. You vote in the hundred whether you approve or not.”

The president continues: “The vote, guys, is whether you find out if that person pleases you or not. And we’re on the move here. I hope you win, right? I hope you win. If you win, if you deserve it, I’ll even thank whoever voted on me. Those who didn’t vote have the opportunity there to vote for this possible personality of the year.”

Historical Covers

One of the videos verified here shows a timeline with images of people who, in fact, were on the magazine’s cover as personalities of the year, such as the Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi (1930), the former leader of the former Soviet Union Josef Stalin ( 1939), former US presidents Barack Obama (2008-2012) and Donald Trump (2016). The post was made in a public group, with supporters of Bolsonaro, which has more than 95,000 members. At the end of the video, Bolsonaro appears on a fake cover, as if he were part of the streak of people who truly got the spotlight.

The personality of the year tradition began in 1927, when US aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh was named the most influential man. According to the magazine, the choice came about by chance. The covers at the time had just acquired the emblematic red border and prioritized portraits of figures who stood out in the week’s events. But at the end of the year, the editors could not reach a consensus on who should take the title.

It was then that the idea of ​​recognizing a personality of the year, and not just of the week, was born, according to an editorial published in 1945. The text considers, however, that the choice for Lindbergh was also a kind of retraction of the magazine by not having highlighted, until then, one of the heroes of the time. In the week in which the historic feat of the aviator, who performed the first non-stop transatlantic flight, was reported, Time chose to print an image of King George V and Queen Maria, from the United Kingdom.

Since the beginning of the publication of the magazine, in 1923, four Brazilians have been portrayed on the cover of the North American magazine in weekly editions. They are: the lawyer and politician Julio Prestes (1930), the former president of the Republic Juscelino Kubitschek (1956), the also former president of the Republic Jânio Quadros (1961) and the former leader of the military regime Costa e Silva (1967) ).

According to an article on the German website DW, the popular election currently held on the personality of the year has no influence on the choice made by professionals at the periodical. The main objective of the survey is to generate engagement on the vehicle’s website.

In 2019 and 2020, Bolsonaro was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of those years. The document includes figures from artists, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and world leaders. Last year, youtuber Felipe Neto was also one of the winners. Now, in 2021, the only Brazilian on the list is businesswoman Luiza Trajano.

These choices are also up to the magazine’s editors. The names are selected according to the degree of influence, regardless of the merits of the actions of each of those mentioned there. The photos of the chosen ones are also accompanied by a text with a brief description made not only by journalists, but also by authorities and other public figures.


Another video that circulates on Facebook, entitled “Globe garbage is like that, garbage of lies… “, rescues a recording of the Jornal Nacional from December 2019, when the choice of activist Greta Thunberg as personality of the year by Time was announced. In this case, the election was made by the magazine’s editors and, therefore, it is an official result.

The same piece compiles another moment in the newspaper, from December this year, in which anchors William Bonner and Renata Vasconcellos announced the winning of two Caboré Awards by Globo professionals. The ceremony has been held annually since 1980 by Grupo Meio & Mensagem, and recognizes employees, agencies and entrepreneurs linked to the advertising sector in Brazil.

The video, which had more than 19,000 views until the publication of this report, includes a montage by the author, who, with an ironic tone, questions why journalists have not reported the achievement of Jair Bolsonaro as personality of the year, as he did with Greta Thunberg. The statement is misleading because, as explained above, the president took the title only in the online vote, and this is not made clear in the video. There is also a fake cover, on which the author places another montage of Bolsonaro’s image in the magazine.

At a certain point in the video, the author disdains the Caboré Award and criticizes the press: “(…) It’s the president of the Republic, the president of the country, and they didn’t give a note, a single note, but they gave it 5 minutes for two their parrots who won the Caboré Award I don’t know how many, little thing there. The president of Brazil won the Celebrity of the Year by Time magazine, the most important magazine in the world, and this ‘Goebbels network’ [referência a Joseph Goebbels, ministro da Propaganda na Alemanha nazista] did not give a grade. This is the level of journalism we have here, especially on Rede Globo”.

Then he concludes: “It’s not garbage, it’s not sewage washing, it’s way below that. It’s depressing, deplorable, and disrespectful to their class, who think of themselves as journalists. Congratulations, President Bolsonaro, Brazil is with you. . One more goal for our country and for you too. Stay with God.”

The profile of the person responsible for sharing the material on Facebook brings a series of other videos criticizing the Supreme Court, the press and political parties.

what does Time say

The first time Bolsonaro was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year in 2019, editor Ian Bremmer defined the president as a “complex character.” The text states that the politician represented the “best chance in a generation to order economic reforms” and that his election marked a “sudden break in decades of high-level corruption”.

The editor also says Bolsonaro is a “propaganda kid of toxic masculinity, a homophobic ultra-conservative” and a driver of a culture war that could spill over into a “setback in Brazil’s progress on climate change.” The same description argues that the country is experiencing a dynamic democracy, with robust institutions, and that the president would have to “learn how to work with the system” to advance the agenda.

The following year, international magazine editor Dan Stewart was responsible for the brief negative context that led to Bolsonaro being included, for the second time, in the list of the 100 most influential. The journalist highlighted the number of deaths caused by Covid-19 (at the time, 137,000), the negative effects of the pandemic on the economy, the resignation of five ministers at the top of the federal government, and the burnings in the Amazon.

Afterwards, he defines the president as a “stubborn and skeptical man”, whose approval, until then, was 37% of the Brazilian population. The editor argues that part of this support is due to the payment of emergency aid to the poorest, but considers that, in his view, there is also a “kind of command cult” of Bolsonaro.

The last text is part of the article that brings the result of the popular poll. The site describes the scenario in which he will attempt a new term: “The controversial leader, who will run for re-election in 2022, is facing growing disapproval of his handling of the economy and has faced widespread criticism from politicians, courts and public health experts for minimize the severity of Covid-19 and exhibit skepticism about the vaccine.”

The publication also cites two recent episodes involving Bolsonaro: the indictment requests made by the CPI on the Pandemic and the inquiry in the Federal Supreme Court that investigates the president’s statement relating vaccines to the development of AIDS.

Why do we investigate?

In its fourth phase, Comprova investigates suspicious content that has gone viral about the pandemic, public policies and elections. The posts investigated here, together, account for more than 28,000 interactions, including likes, shares and views on Facebook.

The contents were shared by profiles of the president’s supporters to promote the false understanding that the president is carrying out a government recognized as positive by an influential foreign magazine.

For that, the posts depart from the misleading premise that the traditional covers of Time are intended to pay homage. The personality choice of the year, as shown in this check, is the recognition of names that have had a positive or negative influence. The tone of the comments on Facebook is one of celebration.

“He deserved it, no matter how much the left wing beats him, he is growing more around the world. Long live our president may God continue to bless, let’s go firm for 2022”, wrote one user. “How proud to have this man as president,” celebrated another.

The content verified here was also investigated by UOL Confere, by AFP Checamos and by Estadão Vera.

For Comprova, misleading is all content taken from its original context so that its meaning changes.

Comprova performed this verification based on information available on December 10th of 2021.


You May Also Like

Recommended for you

Immediate Peak