WhatsApp forwarding cap prompts Brazilian president to seek mass messaging options

Government officials vowed to find alternatives such as Telegram to communicate with supporters.

As WhatsApp imposes a limit of five messages for message forwarding worldwide as an effort to curb the spread of fake news, the Brazilian president's team is already looking for other alternatives for mass communication.

President Jair Bolsonaro's son, congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, criticized the app's decision to cap message forwarding in a new update rolled out on Monday (21) that came as a result of recent global events where the platform was used to propagate misinformation.

Bolsonaro tweeted: "Is that serious? We'll move to Wickr Me, Signal, Telegram..."

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Eduardo Bolsonaro is central to the Brazilian president's social media strategy and is understood to have been advised by Donald Trump's former campaign strategist, Steve Bannon.

His Twitter post suggests that the president is still using WhatsApp as a key channel to communicate with his supporters, so the recent changes mean his team will need to look into other platforms that allow mass messaging.

Prior to the presidential election in Brazil last year, companies supporting president Bolsonaro were accused of backing a campaign to fire thousands of WhatsApp messages attacking his then opponent, Fernando Haddad.

A story published by Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo detailed a multimillion-dollar defamatory scheme whereby international numbers to send hundreds of millions of vitriolic messages via the app, circumventing the spam controls that WhatsApp was already imposing on its Brazilian operation.

Another member of the president's family, senator Flávio Bolsonaro, had his WhatsApp account suspended for three days in October due to a breach of the app's regulations.