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Facebook's WhatsApp Flooded With Fake News in Brazil Election
22 October 2018, 02:00 | Justin Tyler
WhatsApp bans more than 100,000 accounts in Brazil election
Social networking service WhatsApp has become a political battleground in Brazil's most polarized election in decades, raising concerns that it is distorting debate beyond the public eye.
Facebook set up a " war room" to stem the tide of hate speech, false information and other damaging content during Brazil's election this month.
The app is owned by Facebook, which is under scrutiny after revelations of organized abuse of social media in 2016 to sway public opinion in the United States presidential election and the Brexit referendum in Britain.
The day before, WhatsApp said it had banned hundreds of thousands of accounts during the election period, with spam detection technology spotting accounts engaged in automated "bot" behaviour.
Convened under the slogan "Not Him", the rallies were particularly important in cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where according to press reports, about 200,000 demonstrators were concentrated in each, and in this capital, with an estimated presence of more than 30,000. Several political parties, including Haddad's Workers' Party, are jointly requesting that Bolsonaro be declared ineligible for 8 years for abuse of economic power and misuse of digital communication.
Haddad called for Bolsonaro to be barred from the presidential race for what he called a criminal "defamation campaign" of fake news and lies.
Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter that his opponent's party "isn't being damaged by fake news, but rather by the TRUTH".
Bolsonaro said in an online video that he had no knowledge of such activity and called on any supporters doing so to stop.
WhatsApp said in a statement that it was taking the allegation seriously. "We are committed to reinforcing WhatsApp policies equally and in a fair way to protect the users' experience", it added.
Flavio Bolsonaro tweeted a screenshot of his smartphone showing a message in Portuguese saying: "Your telephone number ... is banned from using WhatsApp". Illegal under-the-table funding by companies could, if proven, lead to the disqualification of the Bolsonaro ticket, said attorney Guilherme Salles Gonçalves, an electoral law expert. It also noted that it banned an account related to former Brazil president Dilma Rousseff, a member of the Workers' Party.
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