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What's Up with Whatsapp: The Widespread Use of WhatsApp in Political Campaigning in the Global South

The past few years have seen WhatsApp become an increasingly powerful and influential tool for political campaigns in the Global South. For many people in the Global North, it may come as a surprise that participation in large WhatsApp groups constitutes the majority of online communication for many users in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. While WhatsApp helps politicians reach voters and constituents in areas that don't otherwise have access to the internet, it also extends the reach and primacy of Facebook (who own the platform) in the democratic process in these countries. This article reveals some of the many ways WhatsApp is being deployed as a major part of the political process in countries including Brazil, Colombia, Kenya and Malaysia.

This article is published as part of The Influence Industry - a series looking at the use of data in political campaigning and elections.