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Facebook admits banning over 400,000 WhatsApp accounts during Brazil presidential election

Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of the President, criticized WhatsApp's decision.
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During last year’s elections in , WhatsApp said they banned over 400,000 accounts. Those accounts were said to have breached the app’s terms of service.

Surprisingly, the information was released by WhatsApp itself through a document that was submitted to authorities in support of the investigation that was ongoing concerning the spread and proliferation of so-called fake news.

WhatsApp also said that the accounts were suspended between August 15 and October 28 last year. Unfortunately, there was no information on which candidates were affected by the ban either positively or otherwise.

In a statement to lawmakers, WhatsApp said it “expressly forbids the use of any application or robot to send mass messages or to create accounts or groups in unauthorized or automated ways.”

“Because WhatsApp is an encrypted platform, our decisions against automated and bulk messaging activities are based on account behavior rather than messaging content,” the company said.

WhatsApp is Brazil’s most popular messaging app. Data: Panorama Mobile Time

Based on WhatsApp’s terms of service, sending mass messages through the use of any application or bots is not allowed. Additionally, accounts or groups should also not be created by any automated methods or bots.

WhatsApp also said that automated and bulk messaging activities are based on account behavior instead of messaging content and the fact that the app is an encrypted platform gives them more reason not to allow the activities.

To further control the proliferation of viral messages, WhatsApp has also limited forwarded messages to five per account. The app also started using “forwarded” and “highly forwarded” tags to help users identify non-personal contents in WhatsApp messages.

WhatsApp now mark messages as “Forwarded”or “Highly Forwarded” in attempt to hint at message “authenticity”.

Conservative President Bolsonaro’s election – like that of President Trump in the US – has often been accused of being associated with “disinformation”. Many like to suggest that the outcomes of the elections would have gone a different way if fake news wasn’t as prolific.

And with the recent decision of WhatsApp to put a cap on forwarded messages, this earned the ire of congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro in Brazil, the son of president Jair Bolsonaro. The congressman criticized WhatsApp’s decision and said that he would explore the use of other platforms in communicating with their supporters.

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