Under fire for being a catalyst for spreading fake news, WhatsApp is advertising to fight false information. The US-based company on Tuesday said technology companies, the government and community groups need to work together to fight fake news and make people aware of information received that is not the truth.
WhatsApp has been taking several measures to ensure its platform isn’t used as a tool to mobilise mobs. One such feature, that is set to roll out this week, distinguishes messages that have been forwarded. The company will highlight messages to help users understand that it has not been originally typed out. It has also advised users to double check facts when you’re not sure who wrote the original message.
Before rolling out this feature in India, the company had said, “We have been testing a new label in India that highlights when a message has been forwarded versus composed by the sender. This could serve as an important signal for recipients to think twice before forwarding messages because it lets a user know if content they received was written by the person they know or a potential rumour from someone else.”
In a list of other “easy tips”, the company has suggested looking for other sources of the same information — such as news websites — leaving groups to control what you read, questioning information that may upset you, and looking for signs — such as spelling mistakes or unusual characters — to know that the information is not accurate.
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WhatsApp’s advertisement in Indian newspapers comes in the wake of recent mob violence across the country fuelled by rumours of child lifters on social media platforms. The government, in a recent letter to the company, urged its management to take action against misinformation circulating on its platform in India. IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, conveying the government’s “deep disapproval” called for “necessary remedial measures” and “immediate action” to curb the flow of unverified information.