Document Confirms Illegal Sale Of WhatsApp Messages During Election

Former candidate Geraldo Alckmin's campaign team received a proposal of US$ 2.35 million for WhatsApp blasts; they didn't accept it

Patrícia Campos Mello
São Paulo

An email exchange and a contract proposal obtained by Folha confirm the offers of WhatsApp mass blasts to political campaigns that use third-party users' lists. Brazilian electoral law forbids the practice.
Digital marketing agency Crocs Services sent a formal proposal of R$ 8.7 million (US$ 2.35 million) to the presidential campaign of Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), using names and cell phone numbers provided by the company.

The offer, dated July 30th, quotes several options of message blasts, with payment to be done up until three days before the blast.

Marcelo Vitorino, the digital coordinator at the Alckmin campaign, says that the team only purchased the option to blast using lists of registered PSDB voters and party members -- which is allowed by law. He paid R$ 495,000 (US$ 133,000) for the service.

Paulo Freitas, a partner at Croc, said he wasn't aware the practice was illegal. "If the campaign bought someone else's list, I don't know, but the fact is that they sent me the telephone numbers list."

Folha revealed on October 18th that private companies bought blast packages of WhatsApp messages containing anti-PT content, and they were preparing a big operation in the week before the runoff (Oct 28th).

WhatsApp banned the accounts associated to four agencies and sent them a letter asking them to cease sending messages in bulk. The app said it banned a total of 100,000 users.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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