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WhatsApp creates “Tipline” to curb Indian fake news epidemic

Signal of change / WhatsApp creates “Tipline” to curb Indian fake news epidemic

By Ryan Jones / 11 Apr 2019

WhatsApp introduces "Checkpoint Tipline ", a number for citizens to check on the autheticity of circulating information and submit misinformation. As elections open in the world’s largest democracy, a new partnership aims to tackle the influence of fake news social media and voters. A recent study found that fifty percent of voters had been exposed to fake news and Whatapp is the main faciliator. In response, Whatsapp has teamed up with the Indian startup PROTO to collect fake news and study the misinformation to inform users of the validity of the claims. Attention was brought to the subject after a series of lynching last year, triggered by rumours that were circulated through WhatsApp.

So what?

With consequential elections underway, fake news could be a major factor in persuading voters as both parties have put significant funding behind more aggressive negative approaches. A message stating that leader of the Congress Party had offered money to the suicide bomber who attacked Kashmir forces had massive ripples as it spread through WhatsApp. Fake news has become a prominent discussion point in other democratic countries, having had a significant impact on the US elections. But unlike in the United States where most misinformation came from abroad, in India political parties with nationwide cyberarmies are driving the misinformation campaigns. From targeting political opponents to religious minorities, the propaganda has escalated to violence unlike what we've seen before. The scale and landscape of the problem for American Big Tech poses a completely different challenge. Despite the “Tiplines” reported early stage problems and limited tangible impact, this is a first step towards WhatsApp and Facebook confronting the mess in India and could lay the groundwork for how their approach in other countries in the future.


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What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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