WhatsApp has launched its first ever television campaign in India in order to combat the problem of fake news and rumours which spread easily on the platform. WhatsApp, which is the most popular instant messaging app in India with over 250 million users in the country, has faced criticism over the spread of fake news. The company has launched several campaigns in order to deal with the problem.
The latest is the television ad, which WhatsApp is calling ‘Share Joy, Not Rumours’. It has plans to introduce three sixty seconds film with “real scenarios about rumours that have spread on WhatsApp via spam as well as in family and school groups.”
The Facebook-owned messaging app has partnerd with Mumbai agency Taproot Dentsu and filmmaker Shirsha Guha Thakurta to develop these films.
These ads will run on television, Facebook and YouTube in ten languages across India. The company says these apps are timed to start just before elections in Rajasthan and Telangana. WhatsApp will build more on this effort to fight on fake news ahead of the general elections in 2019.
According to WhatsApp, it conducted extensive research with users in India and each film is based on a real user’s experience. WhatsApp has also held workshops in India to combat the problem of fake news in partnership with NGO Digital Empowerment Foundation.
In India, WhatsApp has added some tweaks to the forwarding feature. Now all forwarded messages are labeled as forwarded, in order to signify that this message is not from the immediate contact and that it could be spam. There’s also a limit of the number of forwards one can send.
WhatsApp has restricted this to five messages in India, though globally the forwards limit is higher at 20 messages. The company also says that it is working on anti-spam detection capabilities to ban accounts that engage in unwanted automated activity.
The company recently appointed Abhijit Bose as the new head for WhatsApp’s India division.