“It works like a pyramid,” stated Nemer, whose analysis focuses on Bolsonarism, misinformation, and social media, and the “human infrastructure” behind political misinformation that spreads by WhatsApp. “At the top, you have people who produce misinformation. In the middle, you have Bolsonaro supporters who work like a swarm of bees to spread misinformation on the platform. At the bottom, it’s average Brazilians who are in groups where this misinformation ends up, and they, in turn, spread it to other groups they are in.”

Communities, Nemer fears, will make it straightforward for the folks on the prime to handle these misinformation networks.

Specialists like Nemer are proper to be involved. When WhatsApp introduced in April that it wouldn’t launch the function till later within the yr, Bolsonaro was reportedly offended that the corporate wasn’t launching it instantly. In July, Brazil’s federal prosecutors reportedly requested the corporate to delay its launch till after the nation’s October elections to keep away from the unfold of faux information and misinformation.

WhatsApp in the end rolled out the function 4 days after Bolsonaro’s defeat. When Cola98 requested if Meta had waited after the election to launch Communities, a WhatsApp spokesperson merely replied, “No.”

After this story was revealed, a WhatsApp spokesperson informed Cola98 that the function wasn’t obtainable in Brazil but and wouldn’t be till January.

Over time, WhatsApp has put guardrails in place to decelerate the unfold of misinformation on its platform, corresponding to clearly labeling forwarded messages, a significant supply of misinformation, and limiting forwarding messages to solely 5 teams at a time. Now, the corporate is placing in a further limitation: Folks can solely ahead messages which can be forwarded to them to only one group at a time, as an alternative of 5.

“We believe this will meaningfully reduce the spread of potentially harmful misinformation in community groups,” a WhatsApp spokesperson informed Cola98.

Nonetheless, Nemer is skeptical. “The idea — having a group of groups — is great,” he stated. “But what is the point of forwarding limits when you can now post something to a single Announcement group and still reach way more people than if you were to send a single forward to a single group?”