Brazilian Debacle Sets Social Media Records

The Amazon has nothing on the river of tears unleashed by Germany’s systematic demolition of Brazil in their World Cup semi-final on Tuesday, which the football-obsessed host country lost 7-1 in an unprecedented blowout, making it the worst defeat both in Brazil’s history and the history of World Cup semi-finals. The one-sided rout also set social media records for a live sporting event, according to stats from Twitter and Facebook.

The Brazil-Germany match generated a total 35.6 million tweets during the game itself, far surpassing the 24.9 million tweets generated by the 2014 Super Bowl in February, and more than doubling the previous soccer (sorry, futebol) related record of 16.4 million tweets during Brazil’s victory over Chile several days prior.

Meanwhile Facebook tallied 200 million posts, shares, comments and likes from 66 million users during the match, setting another social media record. Unsurprisingly Brazil accounted for a large portion of that activity, with 16 million Brazilian users generating 52 million interactions on Facebook.

And you don’t need to be a social media analyst to guess the moments that got the most tweets and Facebook posts: it all came during the stunning 18-minute period in the first half, when Germany scored five goals and the Brazilian national team imploded. More specifically, within that stretch it was the six-minute period when Germany went from a one-goal lead to five goals and everyone realized that Brazil was down for the count. Twitter activity began to spike following Germany’s third goal, by striker Toni Kroos, when Twitter tallied 497,425 tweets per minute. Kroos’ second goal (Germany’s fourth), scored literally a minute later, earned 508,601 tweets per minute. Finally the fifth goal, by Sami Khedira, saw Twitter activity peak at 580,166 tweets per minute. These figures compare to peak twitter activity of 382,000 tweets per minute for the Super Bowl and 389,000 tweets per minute for the Brazil-Chile match a few days before.

Turning to players, the most-mentioned players on the German side were Miroslav Klose, who scored the ominous second goal for Germany, portending total disaster, beating out Kroos and Thomas Muller, who scored Germany’s first goal. On the Brazilian side the most mentioned player in the game was Julio Cesar, Brazil’s hapless goalkeeper.

But the most mentions for any Brazilian player went to someone off the field: Neymar, the Brazilian team’s key striker, who wasn’t able to play because of a fractured vertebra sustained in a previous game against Colombia. It was widely agreed that the absence of Neymar and defensive star Thiago Silva highlighted the Brazilian team’s underlying weakness and lack of depth, and Brazilian fans sorely missed Neymar as the national team went down in flames.

Then, of course, there were the memes. A representative sampling of Brazilian hashtags included the Portuguese words for “shame,” “humiliation,” “disaster,” and “historic defeat.” There were plenty of pictures of distraught Brazilian fans, chronicling their progress from anxiety to shock to despair to numb incomprehension, plus some gifs on Vine that seemed to sum up the mood. Twitter users found an amusing interpretation of how the Brazilian World Cup logo came to be, and the mortified reaction of Australia’s Tim Cahill set off a #TimCahilling meme.

Then there were the more fanciful social media creations, including a photo purporting to show Germany’s goalkeeper having a leisurely afternoon; various Photoshoppings of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue above Rio de Janeiro, including one with the caption “We lost by THIS much,” another where it is blasting off in disdain, and a third where it was replaced by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This being Brazil, futebol is a political issue. Thus President Dilma Rousseff, who invested a lot of prestige and political capital in hosting the World Cup -- and faced criticism over its exorbitant cost -- tweeted: “Like every Brazilian, I am very, very sad about this defeat. I am immensely sorry for all of us. Fans and our players.” News reports state that Brazilian fans were shouting obscene rhymes with her name during the game.

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