Brazil battles fake news ‘tsunami’ amid polarized presidential election
But according to allegations in a front-page report by the Folha de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading newspapers, Bolsonaro has been getting an illegal helping hand from a group of Brazilian entrepreneurs who are bankrolling a campaign to bombard WhatsApp users with fake news about Haddad.
The newspaper claimed the multimillion-dollar “anti-Workers’ party campaign” was designed to inundate Brazilian voters with untruths and inventions, by simultaneously firing off hundreds of millions of WhatsApp messages.
In some cases overseas numbers were used to get around the platform’s spam controls.
“The practice is illegal since it constitutes undeclared campaign donations by companies, something outlawed by electoral legislation,” the newspaper said.
“My adversary is seeking to benefit from electoral crimes,” Haddad tweeted.
“What we are facing here is an attempt at electoral fraud,” he added, claiming to have information suggesting 156 entrepreneurs were involved in the campaign.
At a press conference in São Paulo, Haddad told reporters he would not rest until there was a “blow by blow” account of “everyone who put dirty money into this defamation campaign”.
“The business people who have become involved in this will have to pay judicially – and we already know about several who have taken part,” he said, adding that he believed there was already enough evidence for arrests to be ordered.