The Brazillian government has requested that WhatsApp put a hold on launching its planned Communities feature until January 2023. Details about the request indicate that it was made in an effort to stop the spread of fake news ahead of Brazil’s October election.
If the company heeds this request, it may mean that WhatsApp Communities feature roll-out would be pushed back further. Usually, the Meta-owned chat platform uses Brazil as its testing ground for new features, as we have seen with its payment service and others. Depending on how well the feature performs, it would either be improved and released or canned for some other time.
Already facing a losing war against WhatsApp broadcast messages, viral Tweets, Facebook posts, as well as TikTok videos, adding a new wide-reach social media tool could further endanger the election’s integrity.
“[The new tool comes] at a time when fake news about the functioning of institutions and the integrity of the Brazilian voting system could jeopardize the democratic stability of the country,” Federal prosecutors said in a statement.
Although WhatsApp executives could choose to launch the feature in some other region instead, the company would likely wait until January.
The initial agreement was for the social media giants to launch the Communities feature after the election in late October. But, the government further persuaded the company to let the year finish as some serious risks could still come from increased disinformation in the final part of the year.
WhatsApp Communities is supposed to bring features like expanded group chats of 512 users. The reach could be truly monstrous.
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