Brazil police to probe election disinformation on social media

Fernando Haddad Brazil's presidential candidate for the Workers Party is 18 points behind his rival

Fernando Haddad Brazil's presidential candidate for the Workers Party is 18 points behind his rival

"We have cutting-edge technology to detect spam that identifies accounts with abnormal behavior so that they can't be used to spread spam or misinformation", a WhatsApp spokesperson wrote in an email.

Among the accounts it has blocked are those belonging to the companies that received the "cease and desist" letters.

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".

As the runoff presidential election approachs, Brazil has seen a number of attacks against Workers' Party supporters, journalists and activists.

The announcement came after the electoral court said it would look into allegations Bolsonaro had illegally sanctioned several defamatory mass messaging attacks via WhatsApp in an attempt to undermine his rival.

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

Mr Bolsonaro's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

There are around 120 million users of the messaging service in Brazil, whose population is 210 million.




The recriminations highlight the outsized political role of WhatsApp in the election in Brazil, where its more than 120 million users rival the reach of Facebook's main platform, in a country with a population of nearly 210 million.

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. No details were given about the change.

Haddad and his allies have urged an investigation and threatened a flurry of legal action, as the race that lawmaker Bolsonaro is expected to win by a landslide on October 28 reaches its final stretch.

"There is no limit to the persecution!"

In a second tweet Bolsonaro confirmed his account had been blocked but then reactivated "without a clear explanation for this censorship".

Jair Bolsonaro has rejected claims he was involved in the fake news campaign, calling the allegations themselves fake news.

PT lawyers asked prosecutors and Brazil federal police to investigate.

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