Home / Companies / WhatsApp expanding user education campaign to spot fake news

New Delhi: WhatsApp will publish a new video on Facebook explaining the importance of the “forward" label, and will ask users to cross check facts when they are not sure about who created the original message.

“In addition, WhatsApp is publishing a screenshot of how the forward limit looks in WhatsApp. The limit has started to appear this week for people in India who are on the current version of WhatsApp," the social media gaint said in a statement on Wednesday.

The move will help users identify fake news and hoaxes, effective in curtailing the spread of fake news on the platform.

On 20 July, WhatsApp launched a test to limit forwarded messages to more than five chats at once. Also, the quick forward button next to media messages was disabled. On 3 July, the social media giant rolled out a new feature to clearly mark forwarded messages.

There had been a spate of incidents of lynching in the country connected to fake messages on social media platforms, mainly through WhatsApp. A number of murders were reported from several states, including Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tripura, Jharkhand and West Bengal, in the last one month.

The government has asked WhatsApp to come out with more effective solutions to bring in accountability and facilitate law enforcement, in addition to labelling forwards and identifying fake news. On 3 July, the IT ministry directed WhatsApp to take appropriate measures to curtail the spread of fake and provocative messages through its platform.

Over the last one month, WhatsApp has been running user education campaigns across all mediums of communication, including newspapers and radio. The social media giant also said it was not possible to directly access the messages to identify whether it was fake or not since it was end-to-end encrypted, but it would continue to improve features of the app and also educate users about the same.

Last month, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was initiating measures to increase awareness about fake news with the support of all stakeholders. Media platforms have been directed to work with Indian officials to receive grievances in real time and also inform law enforcement agencies of the same.

As of 31 March, more than 460 million Indian users were on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp.

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