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WhatsApp is not blocked; video about decision asking for application suspension

Misleading: The news circulating through video is misleading, according to which the WhatsApp messaging application would be blocked for two days by court order. This is news from December 2015. The video therefore misleads by sharing the content as current. At the time, the blockade was ordered by the São Paulo Court of Justice (TJ-SP) as part of a criminal action in São Bernardo do Campo (SP).

Investigated Content: Video of 2 minutes and 26 seconds reproduces a report aired on the news channel GloboNews. The article talks about a judicial decision in the state of São Paulo that determined the blocking of the WhatsApp messaging application for two days.

where it was published: YouTube, Kwai and WhatsApp.

Completion of Proof: A video circulating on social media is misleading, claiming that a court decision ordered WhatsApp to be blocked for two days starting at midnight, without specifying the date for the suspension. The video is from GloboNews article aired on December 16, 2015. Comprova received, through the project website, a suggestion from readers to verify the content, which circulates through WhatsApp and can be misleading by implying that the decision is current and will be in force during the 1st round of the 2022 elections, which is not true.

At the time the report was aired, the blockade had been ordered by the São Paulo Court of Justice (TJ-SP) within the scope of a criminal action in São Bernardo do Campo (SP). The reason for the blockade was not immediately disclosed because, according to the court, the action was taking place in judicial secrecy. The request for blocking had been made by the Public Ministry after WhatsApp had disrespected a court decision of July 23, 2015. The following day, the Globo SPTV news program reported that the block was determined because the application did not allow access to conversations for faction investigation who acted in the robbery of banks and ATMs and also in drug trafficking.

The decision at the time determined that the application would not work on December 17 and 18, 2015, but an injunction from the TJ-SP authorized telephony operators to leave the platform on the air. The blockade ended about 14 hours.

To Comprova, WhatsApp informed that there is no blocking of the application on the weekend of this year’s election.

misleading, for Comprova, is all content taken from the original context and used in another so that its meaning undergoes changes; that uses inaccurate data or that leads to an interpretation different from the author’s intention; content that confuses, with or without the deliberate intent to cause harm.

Scope of publication: As the content circulates on Whastapp, it is not possible to define the exact amount of transfers. It is identified, however, with the “frequently shared” tag in the app itself.

What the author of the publication says: It is not possible to identify the origin of the share, as the content circulates on WhatsApp.

How do we check: First, we searched the terms “globonews + j10 + justice orders whatsapp blocking” on Google. The results led to a verification published by Fact or Fakefrom G1, and to two news from the same portal about court decisions that ordered the blocking of WhatsApp in Brazil in 2015 and 2016, in addition to a verification done in 2018 denying a 48-hour block, based on the same content investigated here.

Only the decision of December 2015, however, had been reported by the portal with a video of Jornal das Dez, whose logo – J10 – appears in the verified images. O video available on the G1 portal is the same one that is going viral on WhatsApp and shows a news from December 16, 2015.

Then, contact was made with WhatsApp to verify if there were new movements regarding that decision, and with the São Paulo Court of Justice. The TJ-SP replied that it was not possible to verify the progress of the action without a case number.

WhatsApp blocking in 2015

The decision of Judge Sandra Marques, of the 1st Criminal Court of São Bernardo do Campo, in December 2015, according to G1 portal article, took place after court authorization to intercept WhatsApp conversations to investigate a criminal faction that is also involved in drug trafficking. Despite the authorization of the official wiretapping, WhatsApp did not release access to the conversations, being fined R$100,000 per day for non-compliance, in addition to the determination of the block.

Even with the determination of the block for two days, WhatsApp, at the time, was only down for a few hours. On the same day as the decision, judge Xavier de Souza, from the 11th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Justice, determined the restoration of the WhatsApp application all over the country.

other blocks

In addition to the December 2015 determination, other court decisions ordered the blocking of WhatsApp in Brazil. In February 2015, the Justice of Piauí determined the suspension of the application across the country after WhatsApp refused to provide information for a police investigation. On the same day, an injunction suspended the previous decision and the app was not offline.

In May 2016, it was the turn of the Sergipe Justice to determine the blockade for 72 hours across the country, alleging that Facebook (Meta), owner of WhatsApp, had failed to comply with a previous decision to share information for a police investigation. This time, the app was offline for 24 hoursuntil another decision by the Court of Justice of Sergipe restored the service.

Again in 2016, now in July, the Justice of Rio de Janeiro ordered the application to be blocked, also because Facebook refused to comply with a decision to provide information for a police investigation. The service was down for an afternoon.

No determinations of blocking in elections

According to the WhatsApp press office, the information of a new blockade on the election weekend (October 1st and 2nd, 2022) is nothing more than a rumor. Sought, the company confirmed that the piece in question is an old video that is being used out of context.

why do we investigate: Comprova investigates suspicious content that goes viral on the internet and is related to the 2022 elections, the covid-19 pandemic or public policies of the federal government. The video verified here is old and re-circulated days before the election. Without context, the content may lead the user to believe that the ban on WhatsApp – the messaging app widely used in Brazil – is current and related to the 2022 election.

Other checks on the topic: The same content was investigated by ‘Fact or Fake‘ of the G1, which concluded that it was disinformation. Comprova also investigated that 2018 rumor was rescued to claim that the Federal Police found non-zero electronic voting machines.

Comprova’s investigations were also complaints about ballot boxes must be registered with the chairman of the board, and not in the TSE application; what video was edited to appear that Lula defends the closing of churches is that there was no reduction in polling stations in 2022 due to deaths from covid-19.

This weekend, Comprova team joined 6 other fact-checking initiatives in Brazil to jointly verify election misinformation. The partnership brings together AFP, Aos Fatos, Boatos.org, Comprova, E-Farsas, Fato ou Fake and Lupa.

Investigated by: Estado de S.Paulo, Jornal do Comércio, Correio and O Popular; Verified by: Imirante.com, Rádio BandNews FM, O Povo, Metrópoles, A Gazeta, CBN Cuiabá, Correio Braziliense, SBT, SBT News, Piauí, Folha de S.Paulo and Uol

Source: CNN Brasil

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