2022 Race

Bolsonaro calls potential Telegram ban “cowardice”

Bolsonaro Telegram ban
Bolsonaro speaks in front of the Alvorada Palace, the presidential residence. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

Speaking to supporters on Thursday, President Jair Bolsonaro complained about recent moves by electoral authorities to curb bulk messaging services — with measures that could include a ban for instant messaging service Telegram in the country. Though a radical approach is far from straightforward from a legal standpoint, it raised red flags in the presidential camp. 

“What they are doing to Brazil is cowardice,” he said, adding that he is “monitoring” the case.

In recent years, multiple social media platforms have formed partnerships with the Superior Electoral Court to curb the spread of misinformation during the electoral season. 

WhatsApp, which was a pivotal part of the 2018 campaign, will update a tool launched in 2020 allowing users to flag bulk messaging from candidates. Experts, however, say the move has little practical effect, mainly due to the lack of awareness of the average user. Telegram, on the other hand, has made no attempt to collaborate with Brazilian authorities.

Fearing bans on social media, President Bolsonaro has already come up with a hedge, as we explained in today’s Brazil Daily newsletter.