How WhatsApp Turned Brazil’s 2018 Elections Upside-Down: An Autopsy Report

Clique aqui para Português WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, was once seen as a simple means of communicating and sharing information with friends and family. Brazil’s elections, however, showed precisely how as disinformation runs rampant and even family group chats become political minefields, a much more sinister narrative of what the platform ‘offers’ is taking form. In a result seen by many as impossible without the rise of social media and WhatsApp as a political news source, Brazilians decisively elected far-right nationalist Jair Bolsonaro (Social Liberal Party–PSL)—previously a little-known congressman from Rio de Janeiro with almost zero official public advertising time—over Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad on Sunday, October 28. A significant chunk of this is due to the rise of WhatsApp as a theoretically democratic (albeit unregulated) space to share information, posing a direct challenge to the heavily controlled primacy of television, radio, and print—a trend that seems unlikely to be reversed. Bad actors—with the help of unsuspecting users—subverted democracy through the mass, coordinated spread of lies via the unsuspecting platform. What makes WhatsApp such a vector for disinformation? Used by nearly seven out of ten Brazilians and 95% of all smartphone owners in the country, WhatsApp is ubiquitous. … Continue reading How WhatsApp Turned Brazil’s 2018 Elections Upside-Down: An Autopsy Report