Bloomberg reported on Friday that Facebook subsidary Whatsapp had banned hundreds of thousands of user accounts for spreading false information ahead of the upcoming Brazilian election.
This follows an investigation by the Folha de Sao Paolo newspaper which revealed Bolsonaro supporters have funneled millions of dollars to businesses which design and disseminate false ads on digital media.
One large issue with Whatsapp is that its messaging is encrypted, making it difficult for even the media platform itself to monitor. The intentional spread of misinformation, however, is casting further doubt over an election which is already mired in controversy.
This, combined with his use of Steve Bannon as a campaign advisor, has raised the question of whether there was active coordination between the supporters and the Bolsonaro campaign, which would be in direct violation of their campaign finance laws.
Bolsonaro is currently strongly up in the polls, but he is reportedly still speaking of a “coup” if he is not elected… something that his running mate previously suggested, and Bolsonaro publicly rejected.
Jair Bolsonaro is a candidate whose platform and statements track strongly with those of Duterte in the Philippines. As noted in TNB previously, he has promoted the notion of police being encouraged to shoot suspected criminals dead and of treating foreigners as if they were criminals, and he has argued that widespread torture and murder by the pre-democratic dictatorship didn’t happen.
He is also controversial because of some of his statements regarding women, gays and racial minorities and his seeming disregard for the national Constitution while laying claim to a fervent nationalism. These have caused inevitable comparisons to Trump.
His main opponent, Haddad, is a socialist candidate who has pledged to strengthen Brazil’s ties with China and Russia and is critical of the US. As is often the case, there does not appear to be a Brazilian candidate whose election would be seen as a positive development for the United States. The question becomes how the US will respond to the election of either of these men.