Bolsonaro promises to “seek WhatsApp CEO” to have Communities before the elections – Tecnoblog

President Jair Bolsonaro said last Saturday (16) that will “fetch the CEO” of WhatsApp and contact application representatives in Brazil to have the feature “communities” is released in the country. In an agreement with the TSE, the messenger pledged not to launch the new function for Brazilians before the end of the 2022 election period, in order to avoid the possible mass dissemination of fake news.

Jair Bolsonaro (image: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)
Jair Bolsonaro (image: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

WhatsApp Communities was launched globally by Meta (formerly Facebook) last Thursday (14). Currently, the messaging app’s groups have a limit of 256 users, but the new feature would bring the possibility of uniting thousands of people, such as students and colleagues from the same company, to address a common issue.

However, the Superior Electoral Court understands that the function of the messaging app could hamper the electoral process if used for the dissemination of fake news throughout 2022.

WhatsApp Won’t Launch Communities Before Elections

Therefore, the messenger promised not to carry out structural changes until the conclusion of the second round of elections in October. The president, however, criticized the measure and even stated that he would bar the deal during a motorcycle ride in São Paulo last week.

In an interview with CNN BrasilJair Bolsonaro said that the federal government should schedule a meeting with WhatsApp representatives in Brazil to discuss the matter, insisting that the measure interferes with “freedom of expression”.

WhatsApp logo
WhatsApp (Image: Vitor Pádua/Tecnoblog)

“I already talked to Fábio Faria (Minister of Communications), he will talk to the WhatsApp representative here in Brazil to explain (the agreement)… what not?”, Bolsonaro told CNN this last Saturday.

I’m going to get the CEO of WhatsApp this week and I want to see what this deal is. If it’s for the whole world, I can’t do anything, now, if it’s just for Brazil and it’s for the whole world again after the elections, do you want clearer proof of interference like this in freedom of expression?”

President Jair Bolsonaro, in an interview with CNN Brasil

The day before, on Friday, the president said during a motorcycle ride in São Paulo that he would bar the agreement between the messenger and the TSE, but did not specify how he would do that. In the end, the federal government does not have the power to interfere directly in the issuewhich involves only the Court and Meta, an American private company.

“I can already tell you that what WhatsApp is doing all over the world is no problem. Now, opening an exception for Brazil, this is inadmissible, unacceptable and this agreement that they may have made with Brazil will not be fulfilled, according to information I have so far”.

President Jair Bolsonaro, on a motorcycle in São Paulo

During the act, the leader of the Executive also characterized the agreement between WhatsApp and the TSE as a affront to “freedom of expression”. Á CNN, the politician questioned: “Now, why only for Brazil can group shooting be carried out after the elections? Will there be no more fake news after the elections?”

Telegram was also charged for fighting fake news

Alexandre de Moraes
Alexandre de Moraes, Minister of the STF, threatened to suspend Telegram (Image: Pedro França / Agência Senado)

WhatsApp is not the only messaging app negotiating with the Superior Electoral Court. During the election year, Brazilian authorities are seeking assistance and cooperation of messengers to combat the spread of fake newsthus avoiding interference in the electoral process.

Telegram is also in the sights of the TSE to ensure that the standards set for the 2022 elections are met. However, the case of the Russian-born messenger has been turbulent.

While WhatsApp has always communicated and cooperated with Brazilian authorities, Telegram has ignored numerous attempts to contact and was summoned by the Federal Supreme Courtthreatening the suspension of the app in Brazil if it did not comply with a determination by Minister Alexandre de Moraes in mid-March.

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