If each European country were one person, how would they get to a party? According to a viral maps page on Instagram, France would appear smoking a cigarette, Italy drinking wine, Norway taking all their friends, the UK drunk and leaving early, and Spain arriving three hours late. Russia, in turn, would go to the event without being invited.
The game was created and designed by the Atlasova profile, which publishes informative and funny maps on its social networks. Similar pages mix sarcasm and geopolitics on Instagram and Twitter.
Recently, Atlasova also published a map that encourages its followers to think: what do you call those people who eat other human beings? According to art, Europeans are divided into “cannibal” or “man-eater”. Turkey, however, has a unique way of calling this practice: yamyam (the pronunciation is very similar to the onomatopoeia “nham, yam”).
“Turkey, what’s wrong with you?”, ironizes the profile. The publication, one of the most popular on the entire page, had more than 1,600 comments, most of them positive. There were, however, those who were unhappy with the joke. In this case, some have tried to explain that the word originates from an African dialect and not from the sound of onomatopoeia.
Jokes aside, some of these profiles also publish maps with informative content. The same Atlasova, for example, posts almost daily political, geographic and economic maps, such as “Protests in China are getting more intense”, “What the world might look like in 250 million years” and “Bitcoin is a legal currency in its country”.
But, after all, is it possible to trust these maps? “No, you can’t,” he says to Sheet Atlasova’s creator, Auke Ross. “We are an entertainment page, not a scientific journal. We try to do our best, filtering the most accurate data, but deep down this is a hobby for us; we don’t earn much money, and this is far from being a job”, he adds. .
Ross, 31, is a Dutch political scientist based in Rotterdam. He takes advantage of his free time to collect data and publish maps like these.
2,000 kilometers away, a 17-year-old Bulgarian teenager controls Amazing Maps, a page with 103,000 followers on Instagram that publishes maps and infographics daily with even more serious and political content than those published by profiles of this type.
In recent weeks, for example, Georgi Pamyatinih has drawn up maps showing the location of nuclear bases in Russia and the United States, the unemployment rate in European countries, nations that already have 5G and countries that support Ukraine’s accession to NATO (military alliance of the Western). Complex subjects — even more so for those who are in high school, like the creator of the page.
He says that the published data is collected from reliable sources, such as the British institute YouGov and local censuses. A quick search on the page, however, shows that Pamyatinih also uses Wikipedia to collect data — the research platform can be edited by any internet user, which makes it less reliable.
In addition, there are several maps created with data from third parties and not necessarily from the primary source. About two years ago, Instagram suspended Amazing Maps. “I’m Bulgarian and at the time I made maps that bothered our neighbors like Serbia and Macedonia, so several people could have reported my page. I managed to get it back, but today I’ve learned my lesson and I don’t make that kind of content anymore “, says Pamyatinh.
Among the publications questioned is an “alternate map” of the Balkans. In Pamyatinih’s drawing, Macedonia and Kosovo are covered by Albania; Montenegro and Bosnia for Serbia. On the same map, some Turkish islands in the Aegean Sea are assigned to Greece — the region is the scene of conflict between Greeks and Turks. “This map is cringe”, commented one follower, while another called the page “lame Greek nationalist”.
Today, the 17-year-old manages to raise money from his profile. He has set up an online store to sell custom maps for €10 each (R$55) and earns an average of €150 a month. “Half of my customers are American, but there are a lot of English and German too,” he says.
In Brazil, one of the most successful pages with this type of content is Brasil em Mapas, with 260,000 followers. The profile emerged in 2020, when international relations specialist William Ferreira, 40, created maps distributing Covid cases by state. Over time, the content has expanded, and today the page publishes infographics on economic and political topics.
According to Ferreira, Instagram blocked graphics from the page that showed discounted values for education and health from 2019 to 2021.
Occasionally, the profile also publishes relaxed maps, such as the “Most popular names of Brazilian bread”. Based on data from Google Trends, Ferreira found that people from Minas Gerais call the food “salt bread”, some people from São Paulo call it “filão”, people from Paraíba call it “watery bread” and some people from Amazonas call it “thick bread”.
“Whoever sees the image itself cannot imagine reading it before it is created. I do this because an image is not always worth a thousand words”, says Ferreira.
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