WhatsApp offers tips to spot fake news after India murders

Clay Curtis
July 10, 2018

The instant messaging company owned by Facebook has launched various features to keep a check on the spread of fake news on the platform. Messages will be highlighted to make a difference that the message was not typed out but just forwarded. The Facebook-owned firm coming under fire for its handling of hoax messages that have been cited as the reason for several people being killed by mobs in India. "Double check the facts when you're not sure who wrote the original message", it warns. The company has suggested looking for other sources of the same information, leaving groups to control what you read, questioning information that may upset you among other tips. And if the answer is yes, think twice before sharing it again.

In an advertisement, WhatsApp said technology companies, the government and community groups need to work together to fight fake news. One of its major initiatives kicked off today, in the form of an ad campaign in national newspapers in various languages, that lists a number of steps people can take to battle misinformation.

To recall, a series of lynching incidents around India triggered by fake or doctored WhatsApp forwards prompted the Indian government to instruct WhatsApp to look into the matter with due diligence. "We will build on these efforts". The feature can help users to detect whether a sent or received link is trustworthy.

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Five people were lynched in the western city of Dhule on July 1, after WhatsApp was used to spread a rumor that they were child kidnappers.

Whatsapp had also told the government that it is "horrified by these awful acts of violence" and its strategy to deal with the situation involves giving people the controls and information they need to stay safe while working pro-actively to prevent misuse of the service.

In response to the news, Whatsapp announced that it will pay researchers for studying various aspects of misinformation, which includes election-related issues and viral content that was being spread through the platform.

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