Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Thousands in Brazil rally in support of right-wing, front-runner candidate Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro has run his campaign largely through social media avoiding major television debates Jair Bolsonaro has run his campaign largely through social media avoiding major television debates and mainstream media Credit Silvia Izquierdo AP
Sandra Phillips | 22 October, 2018, 13:59

WhatsApp has more than 120 million users in Brazil, a country of almost 210 million, rivaling the reach of Facebook's main platform in one of the company's biggest global markets.

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.

Leftist opponent Fernando Haddad, who trails by 18 points, denounced the practice revealed by newspaper "Folha de S.Paulo", accusing Mr Bolsonaro of flouting campaign laws by creating "a veritable criminal organisation with businessmen who are using undeclared money to pay for false messages on WhatsApp". He called it "defamatory" and said the contracts were illegal campaign financing requiring action from electoral authorities.

"Jair Bolsonaro -the texts highlights- despises blacks, indigenous people, homosexuals and all those who fight in defense of women's rights".

A WhatsApp representative said it had "banned hundreds of thousands of accounts during the Brazilian election period".

Later, members of Haddad's Workers' Party met in Brasilia with the head of Brazil's electoral court.

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"I leave this meeting with a lot of concerns about the court's ability to face this new situation in the electoral process", Hoffmann told journalists. "The court will treat this suit as if we were in normal times, so I am very anxious". "We have an analogue judiciary dealing with digital problems", he told journalists in Rio de Janeiro.

The suit, which also asks that the justice system demand that WhatsApp put in place a containment plan to avoid the dissemination of false information, seeks to stop a "tsunami of fake news" scheduled for next week, as Brazil enters the final days before the second round of votes, scheduled for October 28. The left-leaning party of third-place Ciro Gomes argues Bolsonaro's campaign received illegal funds and used false news to thrive.

WhatsApp confirmed that it had blocked Flavio Bolsonaro for "spam behavior" and reasons unconnected to the Folha report.

"There is no limit to the persecution!" Jair Bolsonaro's campaign has frequently alleged that the mainstream media and others are working against the front-runner's candidacy.

In addition, it constantly threatens the breakdown of democratic normalcy and has poorly presented his government proposals while anticipating a political project of continuity, deepening the attacks on the political and social rights of Brazilian people that were enforced following the coup d'état against President Dilma Rousseff, in 2016.

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