WhatsLeaks: From Brazil's WhatsApp Mayor, to Fine Gael 'banter'

Irish politicians aren't the only ones texting...

Eight years into its existence, WhatsApp has become the go-to app for a generation of texters and yesterday's sneaky screengrabs show that our politicians are no exception.

Sunday's Mean Girls-esque leak among friends has served as a reminder to politicians that they should think twice before pressing send.

Charlie Flanagan says his WhatsApp comments about the Health Minister were just "Sunday afternoon banter" - while Simon Harris believes the leaked comment was a poor attempt at humour.

The WhatsApp Mayor

Lidiane Leite, was elected the mayor of Bom Jardim in Brazil in her mid-20s and soon ran away to the Maranhao state capital - hundreds of kilometres away from her jurisdiction.

She ran the constituency through WhatsApp messages to her cabinet. These ordered were distributed through a WhatsApp group called "Task Force."

Her legal team argued that she was, "Too young and inexperienced when she took office," and that, "She lacked confidence and delegated many tasks" - and she was ultimately not aware of any wrongdoing.

Ms Leit entered politics after her partner was banned from running for the office because of corruption allegations - she stepped in and won the election.

After her victory, her boyfriend Bom Jardim was appointed as her public secretary and is reported to have effectively taken control of the office.

When her name was connected to a state investigation into the misuse of public funds she went on the run from authorities. The use of almost €4m of public money was reviewed.

One of the politician's Instagram posts

She was dubbed the 'WhatsApp mayor' - and drew international attention including an in-depth report from the BBC.

"I can buy whatever I want ... I'm going to spend money on what I want and I don't care what people say about me," she boasted on Instagram before the charges were levelled.

According to the British broadcaster, as the Brazilian ran from authorities, she messaged her Cabinet calling on them to not co-operate with the probe, while reiterating that she was still mayor.

After 39 days she handed herself in and was made to wear an electronic tag and even spent a number of days in jail before the investigation continued.

She was ultimately cleared of these charges.

Going public...

As we are increasingly living in a world where our utterances are recorded and potentially monitored, many argue that you should presume that any electronic communication you make could come back to haunt you.

Ireland's freedom of information act now covers messaging apps.

RTE news obtained communications from a State WhatsApp group about Brexit under the act.

It is reported to have involved press and communications personnel from departments and State agencies - but the names of individuals were redacted.

In the UK during the Brexit campaign, 'Remain' politicians were accused of using the encrypted messaging service to discuss the campaign, outside of official communication channels to avoid potential Freedom of Information requests.

Malcolm Turnbull's administration in Austrail revealed last year that senior cabinet ministers used the app, which has not received security clearance Down Under.

The Australian PM's cybersecurity adviser Alastair MacGibbon said that the app was not used to communicate sensitive information and that its messages are the same as a text message or phone call.


It is reported that Fine Gael will move its communications to a messaging service called 'Confide.'

The app features Snapchat-style vanishing messages and disables screenshots.

It has been reported that this app is suspected as being a go-to for staff leaking information to journalists from Donald Trump's White House.