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

According to critics, the new WhatsApp Communities feature will make it easier to spread misinformation. They believe that this feature will allow those at the top of the misinformation pyramid to better manage and coordinate their networks.

One expert, Nemer, who studies misinformation and social media, explains the structure of this misinformation pyramid. At the top, there are those who produce misinformation. In the middle, there are Bolsonaro supporters who work together to spread misinformation on the platform. And at the bottom, there are average Brazilians who unknowingly spread this misinformation to other groups they are in.

Nemer is concerned that the introduction of Communities will enhance the effectiveness of these misinformation networks.

These concerns are not unfounded. When WhatsApp announced the upcoming launch of Communities, Bolsonaro was reportedly unhappy that the feature was not immediately available. In fact, Brazil’s federal prosecutors requested a delay in the launch until after the country’s October elections to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation.

Despite these concerns, WhatsApp rolled out Communities just four days after Bolsonaro’s defeat. When asked if the launch was delayed until after the election, a WhatsApp spokesperson simply replied, “No.”

However, after the publication of this story, a WhatsApp spokesperson clarified that the feature is not yet available in Brazil and will not be until January.

WhatsApp has previously implemented measures to combat the spread of misinformation, such as labeling forwarded messages and limiting the forwarding of messages to five groups at a time. They have now added another restriction: people can only forward messages to one group at a time if the message was originally forwarded to them.

According to a WhatsApp spokesperson, this limitation is expected to significantly reduce the spread of potentially harmful misinformation in community groups.

Despite these efforts, Nemer remains skeptical. He questions the effectiveness of forwarding limits when one can simply post something to a single Announcement group and reach far more people than through a single forward to a single group.

What do you think?

Written by Western Reader

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