WhatsApp Communities Will Make It Easier To Spread Misinformation, Critics Say

Nemer, who has research focuses on Bolsonarism, disinformation and social media as well as the “human infrastructure” behind political misinformation spread through WhatsApp. “At the top, you have people giving false information. In between, you have Bolsonaro supporters who act like a swarm of bees to spread misinformation on the platform. At the bottom, the average Brazilians are the ones in the groups where this misinformation ends up, and in turn, they spread it to the other groups they’re in. “

Nemer fears the community will make it easier for those at the top to manage these disinformation networks.

Experts like Nemer were right to be concerned. When WhatsApp announced in April that it wouldn’t launch the feature until the end of the year, Bolsonaro reported angry that the company didn’t roll it out right away. In July, Brazilian federal prosecutors reported asked the company to delay the launch until after the country’s October election to avoid the spread of fake news and misinformation.

WhatsApp finally rolled out the feature four days after Bolsonaro’s failure. When BuzzFeed News asked if Meta would wait after the election to launch Communities, a WhatsApp spokesperson simply replied, “No.”

Over the years, WhatsApp has put the balustrade aims to slow the spread of misinformation on its platform, such as clearly labeling forwarded messages, the primary source of misinformation, and limiting forwarding of messages to only five groups at the same time. a time. Now, the company is introducing an additional restriction: People can only forward messages forwarded to them to one group at a time, instead of five.

A WhatsApp spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “We believe this will significantly reduce the spread of potentially harmful misinformation in community groups.

However, Nemer remained skeptical. “The idea – having a bunch of groups – is great,” he said. “But what good is the forward limit when you can now post something to a single Announcement group and still reach more people than if you sent a single message to a single group?”


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