Why Would WhatsApp Block Spain’s Podemos Far-Left Party?

Published April 25th, 2019 - 12:40 GMT
Pablo Iglesias, is a Spanish politician who has been the Secretary-General of Podemos since 2014. (AFP)
Pablo Iglesias, is a Spanish politician who has been the Secretary-General of Podemos since 2014. (AFP)

The Facebook-owned messaging application, WhatsApp, had suddenly shut down a channel used by Spain’s far-left political party, Podemos, without warning and a few days before Spain’s 2019  general elections.

 


WhatsApp’s move was announced by the party’s Communications Secretary, Junama del Olmo, who went to Twitter to first report it with no official response from WhatsApp or their owner company.

In the tweet, Podemos’ official said that their channel has been operating normally for 15 days, however, it was shut down during the last week preceding elections “when people decided on their votes”.

In the tweet, del Olmo argued that his party used the same tools used by other parties, signaling out the PSOE, the Spanish Socialists Party.

The news went viral and more people shared it prompting the messaging company to release a brief statement on the issue.

Cited by the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, WhatsApp reportedly confirmed that they blocked the channel for “violating its terms of use” for using third-party programs to automate messages.

WhatsApp’s move prompted anger and conspiracy theories of the messaging company led by the US administration is meddling in the elections.

The WhatsApp move comes a few days after media reported Facebook took down several far-right networks, including the far-right Voc Party, for spreading politically sensitive content days before the elections as well.

Yet, the move had its supporters who accused Podemos of spreading Communism.

Meanwhile, critics have questioned the social media giants’ willingness to meddle into politics. This comes amid a massive controversy surrounding social media platforms and their censorship of specific users and in some cases, with a bias usually toward the western left.


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